Vanessa Longley, director of development, YoungMinds

What is your background?

I began my career working for WWAV Rapp Collins in direct marketing, but I’ve now been a fundraiser for over 20 years, working at both a regional and national level for charities like Havens Hospices, Royal Mencap and LEPRA. I gained my Masters in innovation, creativity and leadership two years ago. I’m currently working with CASS Business School researching creative leadership in the voluntary sector, and with the Chartered Institute of Fundraising on delivering a fundraising apprenticeship so we can encourage young people from more diverse backgrounds into the sector.

What does your role at YoungMinds involve?

As director of development, I connect supporters with what we do, so together we can fund the future of YoungMinds.

What is the best thing about it?

Every day I get to talk about the amazing difference YoungMinds is making for young people and those they turn to. Working in the charity sector you get to meet the very best of people – those who want to help and to make a difference. Plus, fundraising is the most diverse of roles – you never know what the day will bring, whether it’s running around Covent Garden with a Christmas pudding, sitting in a bath of baked beans or eating gold-leaf-adorned petite fours at the top of the Gherkin (all of which happened, all in one day, but not in that order)!

What makes YoungMinds special?

There is something super special about an organisation that lives its values. It’s a place where everyone has a shared sense of purpose but is also genuinely looking out for each other.

What motivates you?

Changing the world! Yes really – I have the absolute fortune to work somewhere where you see this happening. Just a few years ago the stigma around mental health was so great that young people wouldn’t say anything. Now far, far more young people are opening up about how they feel. That’s transformational! But now we need to change the world again to ensure the help is there when they ask for it. And that’s what keeps me going – focussing on that need.

How do you like to relax?

I grew up crafting and still have the cupboard under the stairs full of odd bits of fabric, paper, air drying clay and five different types of glue. If you need a fancy dress outfit for a toy octopus, some Christmas felt ornaments for the tree or a clutch bag that exactly matches your new outfit – I’m probably your woman!

What motto do you live by?

You don’t have to manage everything all by yourself. By asking people for help, you also give them permission to ask you for support when they need it