In the second blog of our #MeetTheMember series, we speak to Dee Spurdle, Head of Fundraising and Communications at the Langley House Trust. The Langley House Trust provides accommodation-based support to people at risk of offending or who have committed offences. Dee tells us what drew her to working in the criminal justice sector after starting her career in the armed forces, how the Trust is responding to COVID-19 to support staff and service users, and how she uses her personal experiences to help others to change and lead fulfilling lives.
Tell us about yourself
I started my career as a young solider in the British army. I joined the forces because I had found myself homeless with nowhere to go and was watching those around me fall into crime and addiction. The army provided me with a stable place to build my life, gain essential skills I use today, grow my confidence and begin a career.
Many years on and I have been privileged to shape a career in supporting charities across the UK. I have worked in various roles across the charitable sector, mostly focused on the criminal justice system. This includes working with the YMCA’s Youth Inclusion Project, delivering a cognitive behavioural therapy programme in prison for Kainos Community, working with women in prison and providing through the gate support, and now leading on fundraising and communication at the Langley House Trust. These roles have given me an excellent understanding of what is needed to truly make a difference.
What drew you to working in the criminal justice sector?
I am passionate about helping those less fortunate than myself. The criminal justice sector is somewhere I can use my first-hand experience and knowledge to make a difference, helping individuals to change and giving them a chance to really live and enjoy life.
What does a typical working day look like?
A typical day for me consists of supporting the Trust with fundraising, overseeing communications, and managing a fantastic team. Depending on the time of the year, I can be found editing our supporter’s magazine, which we send out quarterly, speaking at churches, or delivering a fundraising event.
I love my job and thrive on the challenges it brings. The Trust does an excellent job at reducing reoffending and changing lives, so it’s easy for me to share this with everyone and anyone who wishes to listen.
Can you describe your organisation in a few sentences?
The Langley House Trust is a Christian charity which provides accommodation-based support for those who have committed offences or are at risk of offending.
Our vision is to see a crime-free society where no-one is unfairly disadvantaged or excluded because of their past.
Our mission is to support people who have offended or who are at risk of offending so that they reintegrate into society, live crime-free and thrive.
Every ex-offender helped means a step closer to making our vision and mission a reality. Ultimately, this means safer communities, fewer victims and restored lives.
What do you love most about working at your organisation?
The thing I love most about working at the Trust is my colleagues. I work with some amazing people who have a passion for changing lives, and they provide the best possible environment for individuals with convictions to do so.
I also love the difference the Trust makes; over a 12 month period, less than 3 percent of individuals reoffend while within our services.
What are you currently working on? What are your organisation’s biggest focuses right now?
Our organisation’s biggest focus right now is supporting our clients and staff in the current climate of COVID-19. As an organisation providing both supported accommodation and social care, it’s important that we help protect both clients and staff from COVID-19 throughout this time.
The Trust is holding multiple COVID-19 meetings with senior staff each week to monitor and respond to the situation. This has included monitoring all the best practice and professional advice from Public Health England, the Care Quality Commission and government briefings and filtering this information into operational practices; for example, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) usage and testing requirements. We have introduced social distancing and health and safety measures across all our services. We’ve also sourced and distributed the appropriate PPE and are monitoring supplies daily.
We have also prepared centralised staff for potential deployment into services, if staffing levels become a problem. We are responding to staff concerns rapidly and effectively and have opened a hardship fund for any staff members who are struggling financially during this time.
What has been your proudest moment or achievement at your organisation?
I always feel a great sense of achievement at our Annual Review at the House of Lords, which I organise every year. It’s a great day that celebrates the Trust’s achievements and the staff who have made these happen.
I also felt proud when we celebrated our 60th anniversary recently. All our projects, staff and clients came together for a church service in London, led by our National Chaplain Andy Rider.
Do you have any routines or habits that help you succeed?
As a Christian I believe in the power of prayer, and working for a Christian organisation, that’s an easy habit to keep.
Do you have any hobbies?
I am a proud mum of four children – juggling work and my children is my hobby!
We’re an active family, and we love getting out in the great outdoors.
The Red Tent. It’s a fictional story of women doing remarkable things, based on characters from the Bible.
What advice would you give to someone else in your role?
Read, research and learn every day. I find the Institute of Fundraising, UK Fundraising, LinkedIn and attending conferences and webinars the best way to meet others and develop my knowledge and understanding. There are so many inspirational fundraisers and communication experts out there, especially in the criminal justice sector. And if you’re new to the sector, the Criminal Justice Alliance is a great place to start in connecting and understanding the criminal justice pathways.
Our Meet the Member series shines a spotlight on the organisations and individuals working towards a fairer and more effective criminal justice system. If you’re a CJA member and you would like to be featured on our blog, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.