‘An immensely life changing experience!’
31 October 2018
The PULSE Partnership gives GSK employees the opportunity to volunteer at a non-profit organisation for three or six months full-time. We have been working with PULSE since 2009 and this year alone we have seven volunteers supporting our work, and that of our Global Alliance partners, across six countries. Gerald is one of them, he’s now been in India for a few months. He tells us about his experience
How would you describe your PULSE assignment with Leonard Cheshire?
I am the Global Alliance Regional Coordinator working with Leonard Cheshire as part of the GSK’s PULSE Volunteer Partnership. The focus of my volunteer role is aimed at partnership building across all Global Alliance members in the region to sustain the growth of the alliance through capacity-building, project management, communications and process management.
The PULSE Volunteer Partnership is GSK’s skills-based volunteering initiative whereby skilled employees are matched to partner non-profit organizations for three or six months full-time assignments during which they would be contributing their skills to solve social or healthcare challenges. On their return to GSK, PULSE Volunteers act as catalysts for positive change in the company.
I am based at the Leonard Cheshire SARO office in Bangalore, India and honoured to support Leonard Cheshire’s vision to change global attitudes towards disability.
What has been the most rewarding experience so far?
The positive reception and forging of strong ties with my host Leonard Cheshire family enabled a timely transition of my assignment into its execution and delivery phase. While working towards the goals of my assignment, I have managed to effectively engage with stakeholders at all levels and align expectations while preserving a clear view of critical signs and hazards.
The new relationships and experiences have also been immensely life changing. I have delightfully discovered hidden talents, broadened my knowledge, gained valuable skills and appreciation for the valuable work done by Leonard Cheshire in the development sector.
I am happy to be an agent of positive change in the community and will continue my collaboration with Leonard Cheshire beyond my volunteer assignment to bring smiles to the faces of our differently abled brothers and sisters.
And how about the most challenging?
The most challenging experience so far has been figuring out how to and being innovative about achieving much with scarce resources.
Pursuit for greater fellowship amongst members in-country and regionally by challenging status quo and influencing attitudes to perceive where the value lies in a GA.
If you look back at all the things you’ve already done, what are you most proud of?
Looking back, I am happy that contact has been made with both GA regional and national chairpersons to secure buy-in for regular national & regional council meetings. To further support this, a low cost virtual conferencing tool is currently being piloted to enable virtual national & regional meetings.
In addition, a GA partner capacity and needs assessment survey has been designed and will soon be issued out to all GA members to enable data driven intervention towards capacity building.
We have also been able to rally GA members in Joint advocacy around the implementation of the Indian Rights for Persons with Disability Act 2016, the UN International Day of Sign Languages and the International Week of the Deaf. Further joint advocacy and fundraising plans are in progress towards celebrating Daan Utsav, formerly known as The Joy of Giving Week, a "fete of compassion” and the UN International Day of Disabled Persons.
And what do you want to leave behind when you come back to GSK?
My desire is to leave behind a robust, enthused and trusted Global Alliance collaborating closely to change attitudes towards disability across the region. Enhanced engagement, sharing of institutional knowledge is key to breaking any existing silos of individuality and creating a healthy support system amongst Global Alliance members.
Ultimately, I believe that such kind of collaboration would bring smiles onto the faces of millions of persons with disability.