Meet the Team – Donna Smith, Facilities Manager
Actes’ Facilities Manager Donna Smith is true reflection of the organisation’s commitment to helping people to fulfil their potential, having progressed from an administrative role to Facilities Manager over the course of the past 15 years.
Donna is one the organisation’s most long-serving members of staff having started life with West Middlesbrough Neighbourhood Trust (as Actes was formerly known) in 2003 aged 19.
With a Middlesbrough Council Business Admin apprenticeship under her belt, Donna’s first role as Neighbourhood Trust Development Officer saw her putting her admin experience into practice by providing support to the Neighbourhood Manager at People’s Panels and Resident Groups, as well as organising various community events including family fun days.
Donna says: “The role was very community orientated and really brought me out of my shell. It helped me to build relationships with members of the local community and various stakeholders that are really valuable to this day in my role as facilities manager.”
In 2007 Donna moved into the role of PA to the Chief Executive/ Office Manager and remained in the role during the organisation’s transition from WMNT to Actes. In 2011 and with Actes’ current Chief Executive Sandra Phillips now in post, Donna was given the chance to really make her mark with a secondment to set-up and kit-out the organisation’s newly-built state-of-the-art venue, the Acklam Green Centre. This varied role involved managing everything from decorating and furnishing the centre’s meeting and conference rooms to setting up all the relevant policies and procedures including those relating to Health and Safety.
Donna says: “This was a completely new venture for Actes and I was entrusted to develop Acklam Green Centre from a shell into a fully functioning centre. This involved everything from putting in place policies around fire safety, health and safety and security measures for the building as well as recruiting a catering company to man the on-site café which we subsequently decided to manage in-house; it was quite a challenge but one I really enjoyed.”
The secondment led to Donna’s appointment as Centre Manager at Acklam Green Centre. Commenting on the initial period after the centre’s launch, she said: “In the early days it was difficult to predict how things would evolve, however we quickly started to attract bookings from public, private and third sector organisations during the daytime and people started booking parties and running activities from here on evenings and at weekends, which reflected our aims to provide a facility which the local community could make use of, while we provided a centre management service. This trend in bookings has continued to this day, however we are also experiencing a surge in business orientated bookings on an evening which is really encouraging to see.”
Donna took a career break in 2014 to have son Elijah and upon her return from maternity leave later that year she was asked to take on the broader role of facilities manager for Actes. In addition to running the Acklam Green Centre, the promotion involved having overall responsibility for the organisation’s other business and community centre, the Resource Centre in Meath Street, as well as its housing stock.
Today Donna manages a team of 15 members of staff who work between the two facilities, including Acklam Green Centre’s café and in-house catering facility, Café Connect. She also has overall responsibility for driving business at the two centres, taking on-board customer feedback to improve customer-service, and it is this aspect of the role that continues to offer Donna the most job satisfaction today.
She says: “The most satisfying part of my role is the interaction with customers and hearing positive feedback about the service they’ve received.”
During Donna’s time with Actes she’s had the opportunity to undertake a substantial amount of training and development, achieving an NVQ Level 4 in Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) to support her early community work, an NVQ Level 3 in Team Leading, an NVQ Level 3 in Customer Service and an NVQ Level 5 in Management and Leadership. Additional courses that add to her CV include First Aid and Equality and Diversity.
Donna says: “Actes has been incredibly supportive in terms of my personal development, giving me the chance to gain qualifications that have allowed me to continue to improve in my role, however the most significant change I’ve experienced during my time with Actes has been the increase in my self-confidence having started out as a shy 19-year-old.”
In addition to managing her busy and varied role as Facilities Manager Donna is mum to four-year old son Elijah.
For further information about the Acklam Green Centre contact 01642 811 120 or visit the website www.acklam-green-centre.com