We’re forever grateful for the time, passion and commitment of our volunteers, and when we’re able to give something back to those volunteers, it feels even better. This week, we hosted Toby Leitão on work experience who, at the age of just 16, has been a brilliant addition to the Pennies team even if only for 5 days. On his last day in the office, we asked him to sum up his week and thoughts on Pennies…

I hadRob and Toby web a variety of emotions circulating in my mind when I first approached Pennies’ office building. The first was tiredness, dragging myself out of bed and onto the train on that windy Monday morning had been a real struggle.

I was starting to wonder what I had been thinking to organise this obstacle between me and the much desired summer holidays. However, the second was that of cautious excitement, this was my first work experience and I felt a sense of maturity and responsibility. The last however was nervousness. I had never met any of my new colleagues so obviously I didn’t know what to expect.

This last emotion dissipated as soon as I entered my new work place however. My fellow volunteer Caroline named it ‘Pennies fever’, and it’s so infectious I caught it immediately. A better way to describe it would be the ‘feel good factor’. The sense of charisma and drive is present throughout the small team and it’s refreshing to say the least. I entered hoping to learn and study but I quickly wanted to contribute and help this ambitious team go as far as they could in the short time I was here, and I’m lucky to say I was granted this opportunity.

The stereotypical conception of work experience is that it involves the grunt work which the employees can’t be bothered to do. However, Pennies subjected me to no such torment. I got involved with three sections at Pennies: finance, IT, and lastly marketing, all of which I felt like a partner in, and not like slave labour!

With finance and IT, in which I worked with Jola and Chris, I was shown how to handle invoices and how to keep the books in check which gave me a better feel for how Pennies’ revolutionary donations system works.

The majority of the week though I spent in marketing. With the rest of the team (Rob and Rozi) I did some research into charities and retailers, and also was lucky enough to be invited to a PR meeting as well as a meeting with a representative from one of their charity partners (a perfect example to show how they really included me and gave me a real sense of responsibility)!

At the start of the week I pictured myself greeting Friday with euphoria ready for the holidays. But I feel a sense of disappointment, I don’t want to get off the Pennies train! I can’t overstate how inviting and friendly the whole team is. Disappointingly many people sometimes feel charities may sometimes have ulterior selfish motives at play, but a quick chat with Alison or any of the team would quickly make people realise this definitely isn’t the case with Pennies.

The team isn’t here because ‘it’s a job’, they’re here because they want to make a difference in this world. They truly believe in Pennies. And although I have only been here for a week so do I; I think the potential for this charity is limitless. So although my work experience comes to an end, I have faith that I will hopefully be able to meet up with the team once more and help Pennies in their bright future.


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