toni marie

Toni Marie started work as a volunteer helping with filing and administration, now she is a valued member of our fundraising team.

“I started volunteering at Child Autism UK (when it was known as Peach) around 3 years ago – I’d been out of work for some time due to health reasons and I really wanted a way of getting back into employment. I went to Bracknell Forest Voluntary Action and looked through all the volunteering opportunities that were available in my area and it was Child Autism UK’s ad that appealed to me most. There was a personal touch to the way it was written and the ‘nice working environment’ and fact ‘room to progress’ was highlighted, persuaded me Child Autism UK was the perfect place to join as a volunteer.

“As an ‘Admin Assistant’ my main jobs were filing, invoicing, doing accounts and things of that sort but when Peach’s fundraising position became vacant, I stepped into the role voluntarily, and started doing fundraising work – something I’d never done before. I was delighted to discover it’s an area I’m quite talented in, and thoroughly enjoy! I was taught on the job by Mandy (May William, Child Autism UK’s CEO), and Child Autism UK paid for me to do some really useful training – in November I will have completed the final section of my fundraising qualification (equivalent of an A-level) that’s accredited by the Open College.

“Now I write letters to potential donors, fundraising material such as flyers, I work on Facebook and all sorts of exciting stuff I’d never really thought about before. I’ve had some really positive feedback relating to my work and in fact – the number of donations has risen quite dramatically since I took over this role!

“Child Autism UK gave me the opportunity to try something I’d never done before and as a result I’ve found a strength I never knew I had – it was a chance to really shine and feel good about myself. The autonomy I have and the trust given to me by Child Autism UK to get on with my work has boosted my confidence and allowed me to develop skills that may well lead to a career in fundraising.

“On top of this, I didn’t know much about autism when I started but I’ve learnt so much. Writing effective fundraising material relies on having a degree of knowledge to make what you’re saying sound genuine and to speak persuasively about Child Autism UK with the view to raising money, awareness, members etc – you need to speak from the heart which means drawing on material you’ve read, real stories etc. to get the point across. Now, when I’m with friends and they know somebody with autism, or they start talking about autism, I get really animated and tell them all about Child Autism UK – I’m very passionate about what Child Autism UK does and the people we help and would now class myself as a Peach advocate!

“I really enjoy working at Child Autism UK for a number of reasons – it’s a small office which really appeals to me, everybody gets on wonderfully with each other and we all muck in and support each other. In a large organisation you’d be limited to one thing and, in my view, having to focus on the same thing all the times could get tiresome and monotonous but with Child Autism UK the work I do can be very varied. Also, the trust to get on and do my work, to plan my days and work-load is very important to me – Child Autism UK are very flexible and allow me to fit in my other responsibilities around the work I do

“I would recommend Child Autism UK to anybody if they want to better themselves at the same time as working for a very worthy cause with some fantastic people.”