Cracking Charity Chat Ep. 12. James Jopling, Director – Samaritans in Scotland

In this episode I’m chatting with James Jopling, Director of Samaritans Scotland, soon to be Director at ProjectScotland. James has worked for a lot of the big charities and causes, including Oxfam, Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now CRUK), Shelter, Maggies and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

I met James very briefly when I was shadowing Kath Abrahams and Chris Askew at Breakthrough Breast Cancer a few years ago and was chuffed when he dropped me a line to suggest a few topics that might be good for the podcast. So I took a jaunt to Edinburgh.

There is so much good stuff in this and much of – as far as I’m aware – isn’t being discussed in many other places right now:

  • Nations: what it’s like working in one of the nations at a cross-border charity, and specifically, the opportunities and challenges of working in the Scottish arm of a multi-nation charity
  • Samaritans’ volunteering model: the incredible volunteer model at Samaritans. If you’re not aware of it, you need to hear this. Almost unbelievable.
  • Mergers: James has been involved in two biggies
  • Charity chameleon: the emotional toll of living and breathing the causes that we work for, day in day out. I’ve honestly not heard anyone speak so well about the mental health implications of working in the sector.

Key learnings from this chat are:

  • Fry’s orange creams: the best value purchase is from B&M Bargains, 3 for £1.
  • Mergers: take your time with staff and volunteer engagement and consider the emotional implications of e.g. more than one person going for one role.
  • Cross border charities: James’ approach is to consider things across three categories: what do lead on, what do you contribute to, and what do you just let happen?
  • Charity chameleon: there are some obvious potential crunch points for our staff and volunteers, e.g. when we’re meeting clients or when we’re gathering their stories. It’s important that we think about the impact on us and how we manage that on a personal and professional level, but equally important is that we have the emotional resilience, skills and tools to be able to provide people with the best experience of your organisation – because that’s exactly what they need. Check out James’ blog on being a charity chameleon here.

You can listen on SoundCloud,  iTunes or my website. I hope you enjoy it – if so, do share on social media and rate on iTunes. I’d also love to hear your feedback.

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