Small Charity Week amplifies, supports and connects small charities across the UK. We’re proud to partner with small charities to find leaders who are inspiring, authentic and forward-thinking.

Kim Wootton, Chief Officer at Oswestry Community Action, otherwise known as Qube, spent 23 years in the water industry in various roles including customer relations, complaint handling, internal audit and project management. She then moved into an Operations Director post at a public benefit entity to support individuals and families in financial hardship. Her world was turned upside down when she was made redundant in early 2023 until the Chief Officer vacancy at Qube arrived at the right time — and she’s never looked back!

Qube is a community anchor organisation based in Oswestry, Shropshire. They have been positively impacting health and wellbeing for over 30 years, with the aim to improve the quality of life for people in Shropshire and the borderlands.

The ethos of Qube is access to services for everyone. Their Community Hub attracts visitors to their gallery and exhibitions, art classes, social groups, befriending, lunch clubs, digital skills training, community transport, and more.

Qube offers a safe and non-judgmental space for all. Individuals and families attend to seek support, pursue an interest in an activity, or simply to meet other people in a safe environment. Qube’s services particularly support those who are disadvantaged, including disability, health and wellbeing, unemployment, rural poverty and isolation. Services have evolved over time in response to local needs such as rural poverty and lack of opportunities; particularly for social isolation, education and poor public transport provision. Qube help keep people engaged in their community, support them to feel less isolated and to live as independently as possible for as long as possible.

Can you share an example of a creative solution or program your charity has implemented to address a community need or overcome a challenge?

We run social groups at Qube, but they can be daunting and overwhelming for some individuals.  To address this issue we set up smaller befriending groups of no more than six people to come together in a more informal setting to chat.  They have been a great success and helped many people’s confidence grow so much that they can now come along to the larger social groups.

How do you ensure your charity remains financially sustainable, especially during economic downturns or fundraising challenges?

It is challenging! Our dedicated volunteers help us remain financially sustainable. Without them, it would be impossible to continue providing our services. We are under pressure to do more for less and fundraising is becoming more difficult.

We have volunteer drivers and passenger helpers to help keep community transport running, social group helpers, telephone befrienders, digital skills trainers and community champions. They are our shining stars.

“I firmly believe flexibility and being kind supports staff retention. Life doesn’t stop just because you’re at work. Being able to adjust working hours to accommodate appointments and family commitments goes a long way to build mutual trust, commitment and loyalty.”

What are your hopes and aspirations for the future of your charity and the communities you serve?

Our vision is “Empowering local and rural communities to live their best lives.”

We want to combat loneliness and isolation. We will continue to evolve our services to ensure everyone in our community has a safe space and a friend at Qube.

How do you attract and retain staff in a competitive market? Are there different development opportunities that working in a small charity can provide?

Being based in rural Shropshire provides its own challenges in attracting and retaining staff.  Public transport options are limited, so finding staff with access to a vehicle is a requirement for many roles. We pride ourselves on being a local employer and being able to offer opportunities to our community.

I firmly believe flexibility and being kind supports staff retention. Life doesn’t stop just because you’re at work. Being able to adjust working hours to accommodate appointments and family commitments goes a long way to build mutual trust, commitment and loyalty.

At Qube, we have monthly 1-2-1s to check in with the team which involves considering development opportunities. We enjoy less red tape and can play to individual strengths and interests more easily. Staff are encouraged to learn and take on additional responsibilities that benefit both their personal development and the charity.

What are the most important lessons you have learned from your experience as a CEO of a small charity?

Be prepared!  Every day is different and challenges are plentiful, however, it is very rewarding.

Finding the time to speak to visitors to our Community Hub has been the most important lesson. Often you can rush around and spend a lot of time sitting at a computer, but having a chat with members of our community is so powerful and insightful.

How can I serve the community if I don’t engage with them?

Rachel Davies is a Senior Consultant, specialising in recruiting for the health and social care sectors, particularly with small charities and those in the disability sector. Combining her wealth of experience with her passion for recruiting good people for good causes, Rachel can help you find the best talent for your organisation. You can connect with Rachel on LinkedIn or send her an email.