Freelancers for charities

Meet: Mark


Profession: Purchasing  


1) Tell us a bit about your career to date. 

I would definitely say I’ve had a very varied career to date. Over a span of nearly 40 years, I’ve worked predominantly in purchasing-type roles across a multitude of sectors and I am a qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply. 

I started my career working in the rail industry and ended up spending 23 years working with British Rail. From there, I moved to the NHS – I literally left British Rail on the Friday and started my new role on the Monday! 

After 15 years in a variety of NHS roles, I was offered redundancy and decided that it presented the perfect opportunity to embrace what has been a lifelong interest in creative writing, and particularly short stories. 

2) In what ways is having experience in your field important for your freelance work? 

I think a lot of the skills I’ve developed both through my career and in my personal life very readily lend themselves to freelancing. I am very systematic and organised in my approach to work, but I also really enjoy having chance to write and think creatively.

3) Tell us about a time you made a mistake at work. How did you rectify it? 

In one of my earlier roles, I was in charge of sending out invitations to tender to suppliers. One day, one went out with a number of mistakes on it, which was very unlike me! My manager publicly criticised me for the error in front of the whole office, which was a humiliating experience. 

It was also a valuable learning experience though. It taught me a lot about management: in particular what not to do. I think it’s really important that a manager is someone you can rely on. 

4) What made you decide to work as a freelancer? 

I actually had no freelance experience prior to coming across Blume. I saw an advert placed in a senior citizens publication and thought it sounded like a brilliant opportunity to meet new people and make use of my skills. And there’s obviously the side benefit of earning a bit of money! 

Since my retirement, I’ve not exactly sat still: I volunteer at a shop and my local library and am currently trying to write a book. I’ve got plenty more to offer though. 

5) What has been your most satisfying moment since you started freelancing? 

I’ve really enjoyed the variety of work that has come my way so far. Some of the jobs have been fascinating, but none more so than one which had me transposing handwritten letters from the client’s uncle. The letters were all fairly everyday, but talked about times when I was a child so were a trip down memory lane for me. It was lovely to get such a strong reminder of daily life in the past. 

6) What kinds of organisations would you most like to work with, and why? 

I’m very interested in writing, so I think a publisher would be my dream client! I’m open to all sorts though: having something interesting going on is really important to me. 

7) How would you describe yourself in three words?

Friendly, reliable, honest 

8) What might someone be surprised to learn about you? 

I have a collection of somewhere in the region of 200-300 frog ornaments! I have no idea where the collection really came from, if I’m honest, but we have so many we’ve had to stop people buying them! My grandchildren are particularly fond of one where the frogs dance. 

9) What did you want to be when you were a child? 

I wanted to be popular! I was very shy as a child, but I really just wanted to be one of the crowd. I actually think it’s stood me in good stead as an adult though as I get on with everyone now!