On International Women’s Day 2023 our Engagement & Development Manager Sarah Mockridge talks about the challenges and joys of being a parent in leadership
- What first brought you to the Dove Service?
In my first term of High School, my Dad was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour; he bravely battled his illness, however died within a year of diagnosis.
Our family was shattered, however life had to continue. I returned to school and was encouraged to not cry at risk of upsetting my family and friends, focus on my schoolwork and not be ‘too concerned by what had happened’.
I turned my back on my grief and it impacted my education, friendships and self-worth, it wasn’t until my later teenage years that I started to acknowledge my grief and try to work through what had happened.
Whilst studying, I heard about the Dove Service and decided to volunteer my time and the organisation stole my heart. The work we do to help those impacted by grief is life changing and I only wish I had Dove’s support after my Dad’s death.
- What is your role now in the Dove Service?
Undertaking a variety of roles in my time at the Dove Service, no year has ever remained the same. From an active fundraiser, completing half marathons (one dressed as a camel – the rear end, I know you were wondering), abseiling, events and some very chilly buckets collections out in the community. To developing my career as a Human Resource professional, mapping out the organisational structure, strategic overview and robust people procedures, because without our wonderful team, we would not be able to undertake the great work that we have done and we are still blossoming after 39 years.
In my new role as the Engagement and Development Manager, my focus is now on future proofing our wonderful work in the tough times that lie ahead, through strategic planning, focusing on our community engagement, securing essential working partnerships and funding that will enable us to have the greatest impact on those who need the essential service that we provide.
- How would you describe the Dove Service in your own words?
Describing the Dove Service in my own words, I would have to say that we are a very proud and successful local charity serving at the heart of our community, driven by a team of wonderful people.
I could not be prouder of our teams and the work that they undertake, from having those low level conversations about grief that help normalise it’s impact, to delivering higher level interventions like our professional one to one counselling, groups and training.
All of which enhances our community’s resilience, enabling people impacted by grief to go on to live fulfilled lives.
- How do you find it being the mum of a little force of nature as well as working in a leadership role full time?
Until having my daughter in 2019, I never fully grasped the pressure on working parents and the delicate balance that has to be achieved between home and work. We have all heard the term ‘Mum guilt’ and ‘imposter syndrome’, my goodness did it strike me when returning from maternity leave. I had a real struggle finding my identity as an individual, as a woman in leadership verses being a Mummy.
My wonderful daughter fills my life with utter joy, but also great challenge! The challenge of being the role model that I aspire to be for her, alongside being present and available for all those key life moments; from first steps, to starting school and all that goes in-between.
I am so very lucky to be part of an organisation that invests in its people and recognises the importance of work life balance. At the Dove Service we have successfully mapped out change in our organisation that enables a hybrid and flexible approach for our teams, without losing the quality of our front line services. We have worked hard to provide a welcoming environment to all that join us and ensure that our people can thrive because they have the support and way of working that allows them to find that healthy balance. With generous annual leave, parental policies and flexibility, we have a culture that prioritises health and wellbeing and in turn, we get the best out of our people and therefore provide a high quality service to our communities.
For me, I can work flexibly, enabling me to make it to schools events, medical appointments and pick up and drop offs at the end of my week and every day I am grateful for the privilege of being able to work in that way.
My career has been carved by my desire to bring about change for people to enable them to achieve their potential. I lead with great passion and belief in what we can accomplish with a great vision, people and collective enthusiasm. I have always said that my time with the Dove Service will come to an end when I am no longer learning something, being stretched outside of my comfort zone and ultimately no longer needed as our sustainability has been achieved.
And I just hope that inspires my daughter to live her life with passion and love, finding a pathway and career that comes from her heart.