A week in the life of a Lloyds Bank Foundation Regional Manager

Mike Lewis

Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales is saying goodbye to its first and only Regional Manager for Wales, Mike Lewis. The small charities champion from Brecon is retiring after 23 years supporting small and local charities across Wales. He currently supports 62 charities across the country which have been awarded grants by the Foundation worth £4,260,617 in total. Read his blog below about the typical week in the life of a Regional Manager.

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It`s Monday morning. I normally work from home so it`s laptop on and off we go. I check in with colleagues on a video call (I’m one of 11 Managers across England and Wales, each covering a different part of the country). We’re always involved in several projects that we lead on, ranging from internal development to engaging in external partnerships with other funders or sector bodies.

No two days are the same, I might be preparing for visits to a charity or feeding into our grant-making database.

Some days I would liaise with our external consultants and suppliers who help develop and train our charities, check in on progressing or commissioning new projects.

I also take the lead on two of our funding themes, trafficking and modern slavery, and learning disabilities, which means I could be writing an article on that or updating related guidance for charities applying for grants.

Tuesday arrives and I’m off to Cardiff to visit one of the charities the Foundation supports. It’s about 48 miles from home and depending on when I leave the house it can take 1.5 hours. I have about 75 live relationships with charities across Wales at present and 16 in Cardiff alone.

The morning meeting is with a charity helping refugees and asylum seekers. I’m there to meet their new CEO; we talk about not only the grant the Foundation has awarded but also the external environment facing them. Most importantly, we talk through any development needs they and their charity might have, be that training and having a consultant on-hand to support them or finding a suitable mentor to support them.

At 2pm I have a meeting with a fellow funder who are leading on an initiative to increase charity investment in Wales which we support through an advisory group.

It`s 4.40am on Wednesday. It`s dark and two alarms are going off. Half an hour later, I`m rushing out the front door to catch the early morning train to Paddington London. Two hours later, I’m with a colleague jointly leading on a key project.

The dairy is stuffed with meetings, presentations and workshops. The day flies by. I get back to Brecon late at night.

It’s Thursday and I have a meeting with an incredible domestic abuse charity in Newtown followed by an equally brilliant mental health charity in Wrexham.

You spend a lot of time on the road but you have to. In this job you need to press the flesh in order to build relationships. Both of today`s visits are a chance for us to catch up to talk through issues impacting on the charities both in terms of service delivery and the development of their organisation.

It sounds like a cliché but this is a special job where you get to help charities make a difference to people’s lives. I remember how a single mother once spoke about her struggles to care for both her elderly mother and her child. Moments like that are incredibly moving.

Friday can be like a Monday or it can be another day of visits.

So, what’s missing from the `usual` week? Well, there are the meetings and networking with the Welsh Assembly Government, a London-based funder may want to pick your brain as they have no presence in Wales or one of my regular meetings with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

You also need to keep on top of what`s going on in Wales, especially what the charity sector and Government landscape is like. Another key part of your role, which I really enjoy, is the policy work and that means getting involved in influencing, development, commissioning or partnerships.

It’s key to connect to the opinion formers and the decision-makers and make them aware of the lived experiences of those who are helped by charities. Everyone has a different chemistry, so you really need the interpersonal skills for that as well as a helicopter view of what is a huge patch.

And don`t lose sight of the core work; grant-making. It’s down to you to manage the day-to-day portfolio of grants across Wales from the initial application through to completion.

This is a wonderfully varied role and there`s always plenty to do and places to go. Anyone lucky enough to get the opportunity to take this role will get the space to make it their own. If you’re driven to develop the sector and make a real impact, this is the role for you and the Foundation will be there to support you.  

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