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Home > About us > Leadership blogs > Volunteering – a little drop of compassion goes a long way

Volunteering – a little drop of compassion goes a long way

February 2024

Jim Islam, Chief Executive Officer

I am privileged and extremely proud to serve on the Board of Trustees of the RNLI, the organisation whose understated yet powerful self-description is “The charity that saves lives at sea.”.

From its beginnings 200 years ago, with just wooden lifeboats that had oars and sails, to the present-day high-tech all weather lifeboats – this incredible charity has saved over 144,000 lives.

That’s 144,000 families whose loved-ones have returned home when the day’s outcome could have been so tragically different.

That’s 144,000 acts of selfless bravery.

144,000 stories of courage and compassion.

Growing up in the port city of Karachi with merchant navy captains in my family lineage, the maritime world has been an integral part of my upbringing. So, having a respect for the sea and its power is something that I’ve known my whole life.

I knew of the RNLI and its volunteers; brave people who are woken from their sleep on the darkest and most wild of nights to head out to sea to face the unimaginable.

They are like heroes to me.

"Having a respect for the sea and its power is something that I’ve known my whole life"

So, as a lifelong supporter, I was keen to do what I could to help. To use my financial services skills to their benefit. So, I was honoured to join the Board in July 2022 as its Treasurer.

And here’s the thing. We all have our skills, talents or aptitudes that will be valuable to others. According to the Charity Commission there are over 180,000 charities in England and Wales, with nearly 6.9m volunteers. Each and every one of these people gives something that is truly precious – their time.

Which is why I’m also proud to be the CEO of an organisation with a team of over 700 people who care.

Our colleagues have three paid days of volunteering leave each year, which they can use as they wish. That might be helping out at their local scout group, picking up a paintbrush to decorate a community hall, serving food to the homeless, bringing cheer to the lonely… anything that helps others and makes their life a little brighter.

"Each and every one of these people gives something that is truly precious – their time"

Giving money to charity is important, especially right now. But giving of yourself, your energy, your commitment – no matter how small you think your impact might be - that’s compassion for others.

And a little drop of compassion goes a long way.

Jim Islam smiling

Jim places great value on the importance of education, citing it as the foundation stone upon which social mobility can be built. As OneFamily’s CEO, he wants to hold out his hand of support to those who don’t know where to turn and to use his platform to lift people up and inspire them to fulfil their potential.

He encourages thinking big, having great aspirations and setting audacious goals to free potential. With education, encouragement and empowerment he thinks that any child can achieve their biggest and most colourful of dreams.

Jim was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of financial mutual, OneFamily, in December 2023.

OneFamily is the UK’s third largest mutual with over 2m customers.

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