At the age of 11 Stephen Pender was under the care of ellenor. More than 20 year later, he has joined the fundraising team, fulfilling a long-held dream to give something back.
The children’s team at ellenor helped provide treatment for Stephen, who had undergone an operation after developing a brain tumour.
He said: “I don’t think I would have got through it without ellenor’s help. Having the care available at home was a big part of it, especially as I wasn’t always in the best of health. That’s why ellenor is so important to me. All the services they provide mean so much to people in this area.”
Stephen took on the role of supporter engagement officer, which involves encouraging businesses and the community to support the charity by organising or taking part in fundraising activities.
He said: “It’s really good and it’s a big change for me as I worked in retail before. I came across the job in a funny way: The company I worked for in Bluewater asked us to choose a local charity and I was put in charge of it. Of course, I chose ellenor straight away, not just because it is a really important local charity but because of everything I went through and how they helped me.”
Through organising charity events, Stephen got to know ellenor’s fundraisers and realised it was an area he would be interested in as a career for himself.
He said: “I had wondered about it before, but I thought all fundraising work was voluntary. I’m young and need to have a job where I earn money. I’m so proud of my job at ellenor and I think I’m happier in my work than most the people I know. It certainly feels like an upgrade from working in retail and it has so much more meaning. It’s what I’ve always imagined doing – having a job where I can help people.”
As a fundraiser, Stephen is now tasked with encouraging local cafes, restaurants and pubs to join ellenor’s Hospitality Heroes initiative. He also particularly enjoys helping to organise fundraising events such as the recent Twilight Walk. As a youngster he benefitted from some of the events himself.
He said: “The help I had from ellenor was so good for me, not just with the nursing care. I went to a lot of events like the Christmas party, and the nurses also took me out to do things like shopping.”