September 2019 Update

One year on from joining Special Olympics Great Britain, CEO, Michelle Carney reflects


I really can’t believe I’ve been in this post for just over a year now.

I can honestly say joining Special Olympics GB has been the biggest privilege I’ve ever had.  From the World Games in Abu Dhabi to the Unified Mile, talking to government officials, corporate partners – current and hopefully future - sport governing bodies and travelling the country to see the amazing things you do on a day-to-day basis, it has been a real honour.

Thank you for making me feel part of the family and for everything you do for Special Olympics GB.  You really are an extraordinary set of people.  Throughout the organisation from the regions to the grassroots, clubs and volunteers across the board who work tirelessly, day in and day out for Special Olympics GB, I have been blown away by your enthusiasm, kindness, generosity and hard work.  Your work is recognised and valued immensely.  So on behalf of myself, the Board and all our athletes, THANK YOU to all of you!

There is however, one other group of people I’d like to single out.   A group which fill me with so much pride I could literally burst sometimes!  And that is our athletes.  I can honestly say getting to know our amazing athletes has been my absolute highlight and why I walk around telling everyone I have the best job in sport!

I don’t need to tell you that our athletes are at the very heart of what we do every day and will always remain so.  They are the reason we exist and they are the reason Special Olympics GB is such an amazing organisation.  They are certainly mine and the team in National Office driving force.

Of course with the highs there come lows.  And while there have been many amazing moments over the last 14 months, there have also been some challenges at times.  It’s been a year of change - which is never easy. 

We’ve had to say goodbye to a number of colleagues who were well known among you and it is with sadness we will soon say goodbye to Andy Heffer who has decided to take on a new challenge.  Murton Mann will also be stepping down as Chairman later this year.  I’d personally like to say a huge thank you to them both for everything they have done to welcome me and for their dedication to Special Olympics GB.   They will be big shoes to fill but we are on the case.   

We may be a small core team at the moment but it continues to be business as usual and I’m delighted to say we are now in the process of rebuilding for a stronger future with more details below. 

So what’s in store for the next 12 months?  The simple answer is LOTS.  A priority is the appointment of several key posts in National Office which are in the process of being filled to make the organisation stronger and to improve support for everyone across the country.  And following feedback from you, we will be advertising for a Membership Officer to provide a central contact for key admin tasks.  So watch this space - we are looking forward to introducing new staff to you as soon as possible.  Plans for the National Games in Liverpool in 2021 will continue at a pace and there are lots of events – big and small - including The National Alpine Skiing Competition in February 2020 in Crans Montana, Switzerland.

We’ve come a long way but this is only just the beginning and I'm really looking forward to working with you all.  Many thanks again and here’s to the next 12 months and everything they will bring. 
I for one, literally, cannot wait!

CEO Special Olympics GB 

Update on National Office

Understandably, we’ve had a lot of questions from people about what is happening at National Office and requests for staffing structures etc. 

Change and transition can be exciting, but it can also be very stressful for those involved.  I'd like to thank all of you and the Special Olympics GB family for your patience through this time of transition. 

Over the last year, I’ve been working closely with the Board of Trustees and we are still in a process of strengthening Special Olympics GB and stabilising the finances of Special Olympics GB after a very difficult and challenging few years.  This is not an easy task, which I am sure you will appreciate.  We have listened to a lot of feedback on our visits out to the regions and discussions with those of you delivering on the ground.  

We’ve been undergoing a process of change and transition to become a leaner, more effective, efficient and impact driven organisation.  We are trying to establish a stable financial foundation from which to build, so we can reach more people with an intellectual disability across Great Britain whilst importantly improving the support for grassroots on the ground, up and down the country.  Part of this process is looking at a core team structure which will serve the needs of Special Olympics GB from a compliance and legislative perspective, in line with our charitable objectives and charity regulations, and our international licence agreement.

We have now completed a re-design of the internal organisational structure which we are now able to share.  This has not been an easy process and has been delayed with the World Summer Games, Unified Mile and Liverpool 2021 planning, as well as delivering on our contractual obligations.

We can now confirm the roles of those within the core team, and the roles we intend to go out to external recruitment for.   Those in red are the positions currently being advertised or have recently been filled.  If you’d like a copy of the org chart, please email CHARISMA DHIMAR

National Office Core Team – as at September 2019

Chairman – Murton Mann: in position until end of 2019 (recruitment search underway)

CEO – Michelle Carney

Exec Assistant – Charisma Dhimar

Director Sports & Services – Andy Heffer: in position until September 24

COO (recruitment search underway)

Head of Sport & Competitions (recruitment search underway)

Head of Network Development – Laura Baxter: new appointment

Network Development Manager – Tim Masih

2 x Network Development Managers – to be appointed at a later date

MATP Delivery Team – Dr Niamh Mourton, Angela Lydon and Helen Derby (1 day/week)

Volunteer Co-ordinator - Lionel Barnard (Volunteer 4 days per month)

Membership Officer (Admin/Contracts/Accreditation/Reporting) (to be recruited asap)

Director of Fundraising – Ginny Kearns: new appointment

Senior Account & Events Manager – Laura Davies

PR & Comms Consultant – Alison Lavenant (3 days per week)

Head of Finance & Opps (recruitment search underway)

In practical terms, responsibilities for some key areas are below and in some cases have been split for the moment. However, as new staff come on board this will be revised and sent round again.  And if you’re still not sure, please just ask.  Please note these are not complete job descriptions.  Contact details for all can be found HERE.

Michelle Carney

Overall responsibility for all of Special Olympics GB – Strategic development, Board Governance & Risk Management, Finance & Operations, HR & Recruitment, Legal & Compliance, Key Strategic Relationships, Government Liaison and Advocacy, International Relationships (SOI/SOEE/Corporate Partners), Board Level Liverpool 2021 Relationships.

Laura Baxter

Requests to volunteer; National Summer Games, Major events; community/athlete leadership; AIC; safeguarding issues (interim); insurance (interim); Unified, MATP, programmes; Sport relationships of National governing bodies; Liverpool ops; Volunteer development

Laura Davies

All corporate partner relationships and events; athlete initiatives and small events; SAM forms (interim) and athlete registration (interim); corporate volunteers.

Tim Masih

Accreditation and New Member help.

Ginny Kearns

All elements of Fundraising

Alison Lavenant

Website content, Internal and External Comms - Press, Social Media - Branding and logos.

Lionel Barnard

Volunteers and DBS

Charisma Dhimar

Donations; Athlete census, GMS; GDPR (interim) and interns.


Personnel Changes

Andy Heffer

As mentioned earlier, sadly Andy Heffer has decided it’s time to look for a new challenge and will be leaving SOGB on September 24.  This is a big decision for Andy and a big loss for Special Olympics GB. Andy has dedicated over 25 years to Special Olympics and his loss will be felt across the network.   I’m sure you will all agree it’s been a pleasure working with Andy and we are so grateful for the commitment that he has shown over many years. Please join us in wishing him the best of luck in his future endeavours.

Laura Baxter

A familiar face to many already, we are delighted to say that Laura Baxter has joined Special Olympics GB on a full time basis to lead development from a National level with regions, clubs and accredited programmes.  She will also be responsible for workforce development, partnership and relationship building, infrastructure development at a governance and operational level across the country, advocacy and influence at a variety of levels to unlock resource.   The full press release can be seen HERE.

Ginny Kearns

Fresh from Save the Children, we are excited to welcome Ginny Kearns to our team as our new Director of Fundraising. Ginny has worked in the charity sector for over ten years specialising in major donor fundraising with a particular focus on special events. She is experienced in establishing and developing relationships with a variety of stakeholders and has a proven track record of successfully managing multiple projects.  Ginny can be contacted on email HERE.

Special Olympics GB meets Strictly Come Dancing

Strictly Come Dancing is back with a bang and we couldn’t be more excited to learn that Special Olympic GB's newest Ambassador, Catherine Tyldesley is one of the 15 celebs taking part this year. Cath who is probably best known for playing Eva in Coronation Street, has been paired with South African pro dancer Johannes Radebe.   We would love to support Cath along her sparkly way so if any athletes would like to send us some good luck videos and messages, please contact ALISON LAVENANT who would love to hear from you.

Cath can also be seen in BBC ONE’s new comedy Scarborough on Friday nights at 9.30pm.

And talking of star-studded appearances and Special Olympic GB Ambassadors, the very lovely Jim Carter can also be seen in the hugely anticipated Downton Abbey film, available now in cinemas throughout the UK.

And finally….

Just a gentle reminder that this year’s Accreditation process has now kicked off, with all forms due to be returned by Friday, November 30.   You should have received various emails from Laura and Tim outlining the changes to the process moving forward. Accreditation will be completed via the Cognito Forms platform which has been used in the past, with some changes introduced to the form to streamline the process.  These changes will help provide us with more detailed and accurate baselines which will help us all unlock potential funding and competition places among other things.  

A step-by step guide is available to help you through the process can be found HERE.

If you have questions please email TIM MASIH with subject title: Accreditation 2019.