Through our partnership with Refinitiv Stephen Bergin, Commercial Finance Director (Partners) has been working with Brightside, a social mobility charity within SBT’s portfolio, since 2016. Stephen was interviewed as part of Refinitiv’s activities to promote volunteering. Read below what he had to say about the benefits of volunteering his professional skills with SBT.

What inspired you to get involved in volunteering and why did you choose to work with Brightside?
A colleague of mine worked with SBT and sat on the board of directors for one of the social enterprises they support. Before every board meeting, he would ask for my advice – we would go through the financial information in the board papers and I helped to interpret it. I would give my opinion and suggestions on where the focus should be and any potential actions. Before long, my colleague encouraged me to get involved directly with SBT as they were looking for more volunteers to work with the social enterprises.

I was introduced to the SBT team and have been working with them ever since. They are a great organisation to work with and there is the opportunity to meet and work with people across all the social enterprises they support and their corporate partners.

Brightside is a social mobility charity, providing an online mentoring platform to help young people make confident and informed decisions about their future. It was a great fit for me as I am passionate about education and providing opportunities for young people to fulfil their potential.

Can you describe your role with Brightside, how long you have worked with them and what your main responsibilities are?
I originally started working with Brightside in 2016 and was brought in to help define and recruit for, a new Head of Finance role within the organisation. This involved spending time with the CEO and management team to understand how the organisation operated and the scope of the new role going forward. We managed to find a great candidate in Rachel Pigott and I have been mentoring her ever since.

What has been your most memorable moment while working with Brightside?
A few years ago, Brightside invited me to be a judge on an initiative called “The Big Deal” at the University of York. It is a Dragon’s Den style event involving over 100 students aged 13-15 from disadvantaged backgrounds. They worked through a three-month programme with mentorship from leading businesses, which culminates in a presentation at the event. The quality of the ideas and presentations were exceptional and it was a privilege to be involved in and to see the impact Brightside and mentorship can have on these young people.

What do you get out of volunteering? What would you say to encourage others to get involved?
Being able to use my professional expertise to help social enterprises is very rewarding. It has given me the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people who are really making a difference in society and it is great to be able to be a part of that. I have also learnt a lot from working with different organisations, as well as building up a great network of contacts. It has definitely helped me grow professionally and I have worked with, and learnt from, some great leaders.

SBT also introduced me to Bikeworks CIC, of which I am now a Board member. It is an amazing organisation to be involved with and is having a real impact. The speed in which decisions are made and executed on is very impressive, especially over the last few months due to the unprecedented circumstances.

My advice to colleagues who are interested in volunteering would be to start exploring what opportunities are out there and speak to a few people. SBT have a range of different projects, some with short term commitments and some with longer term – so you can try something that suits you. The experience is very rewarding, and you will have great fun along the way!

We asked Rachel Pigott about her experience of being mentored by Stephen and here’s what she had to say:

Having the support of Stephen has been invaluable for me over the last few years. Working for a mentoring organisation I didn’t need any persuading on the value of having a mentor – I jumped at the chance when Stephen offered his time and expertise. Working in a fast paced environment at a small organisation is very hands on, so it’s really important to take the time out to reflect and get an outside, experienced, perspective. Stephen’s commitment, enthusiasm and ability to translate his corporate experience to a growing social sector organisation has been a huge help to me both personally and professionally, and in turn, helped Brightside immensely. Thank you so much Stephen for all your questions, challenges, support and guidance!

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with SBT, please email [email protected]