A day in the life: Tony Bloomfield
I joined Blesma in 2018 to take charge of fundraising after a spell at Blind Veterans UK. I’ve enjoyed it from Day One, and I’m delighted to become Blesma’s Operations Director and have the opportunity to help take the charity forward.
I’ve been involved with the voluntary sector for 37 years. I have worked in fundraising, service provision and communications for charities and organisations involved in dementia, neurology, and post-natal depression, liaising with clinical commissioners and All Party Parliamentary Groups to further their causes and raise funds. I’ve helped advocate for, and set up services across the health sector, held briefings in Parliament, fought for resources, and campaigned for charities. In one role, I even hosted the Dalai Lama.
We have had a great year fundraising despite the pandemic. We have built a professional and dedicated team who have been pro-active during the year. We have put on a range of events; from a Remembrance 11K to a Gameathon. The team hasn’t been phased by the challenge – I can’t emphasise enough how hard they have worked in difficult circumstances.
Fundraising is important because it supports the Members and everything we do for them. You can see the results directly, whether that is in welfare grants or supporting projects like Making Generation R. The Association is small enough to really see the impact.
One of the biggest changes the Association faces as a result of the pandemic is that Members have not had the chance to get together. They are still supporting each other where possible, but that face-to-face contact is so important. We even have some new staff who have not had the chance to meet Members yet, but we hope that will change in 2021.
The BSO and Outreach teams have been amazing during lockdown. They have organised virtual activities and have kept in touch with Members and Widows to make sure they were ok both physically and emotionally, and to keep them involved and connected with others.
I’m positive about 2021. There will be challenges, obviously, and one of these will be restarting the Activities Programme. I am confident that we will be able to do that in the first half of the year, and the team in Chelmsford is working hard to make that happen.
But safety is critically important with or without Covid, and we won’t move forward until we are absolutely certain our Members will be safe taking part in any event.
There are three main pillars to Operations – activities, communications and fundraising. My job is to make sure they are linked, and to synchronise their efforts. Blesma has a strong and committed staff, and there is a great deal of hope for the future of the organisation.