At CHAS, getting the care and support right for our children and families is at heart of everything we do. So much so, we invited Claire, mum of Emmy to take part in the interviews for our new Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Claire has very kindly shared her experience.
As a parent, anything is possible with CHAS. Let me explain.
A few months ago now, I opened an email from CHAS inviting me to be part of their interview panel for the recruitment of their new Policy and Public Affairs Manager.
The invitation was meaningful on so many levels.
My beautiful daughter Emmy died, aged 3 years, at Robin House in April 2018 having received both respite and then end-of-life care from CHAS. There is always something so beautifully subtle in receiving any correspondence from CHAS regardless of the content; you are reminded that they are always there for you no matter how much time has passed since losing your child.
But an email inviting me, a mum, to sit on the interview panel for such an important role?
It simply resonated with me how much CHAS as an organisation value the input from children and families at all levels.
Naturally, I said yes - and then the nerves kicked in a bit!
I was acutely aware that I knew nothing about the post or indeed really what a Policy and Public Affairs Manager does.
I needn't have worried though as CHAS were brilliantly organised.
They sent me a link in advance to their recruitment system that allowed me to access the job description and the candidate applications. I also got to speak for a while on the telephone with Susanne (Associate Director of External Affairs) who talked me through the process, let me ask any questions and, as a result, put me completely at ease.
On the day of the interviews, I was welcomed with tea, biscuits and smiles as is CHAS's way.
I was involved at every level of the day's proceedings, from being able to select which questions I would feel most comfortable asking to choosing where I wanted to sit. I also actually felt a bit like a guest star as the panel were so excited at having a parent sit with them for the very first time (did I not mention that I was the guinea pig?).
The remainder of the day went well and I was completely at ease - well, as much as you can be in an interview situation. I am very pleased to report that I was able to follow the interview discussions too!
For me, what was most rewarding about the experience was seeing first-hand just how much CHAS really do value the children and families that they support. I will never forget seeing the joy in the panel members' faces when a candidate had left the room having demonstrated an innate understanding of the organisational value base.
And (I hope I am allowed to say this!) there was an actual fist pump in the air after one candidate had openly empathised with me and asked me a couple of questions about my experiences as a parent who had used Robin House.*
I am so glad that I said yes to this experience, and I am hopeful that CHAS will be keen to continue this practice.
For any mum/dad/sibling who is asked to sit on a future panel, I hope my blog will reassure you that it really is a wonderful opportunity - say yes!
*I would like to point out that this was after the candidate had left the room!