n-compass: The Lancashire organisation helping people get back on their feet
Founded two decades ago as an advocacy organisation, n-compass has evolved to become one of the North West's most influential not-for-profits.
Dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable people by responding to the demands of the communities in which it operates, the charity now supports over 30,000 people annually. The aim is to double that number in the next three years, with its 150 members of staff and working in issues such as isolation, mental health, and care work.
But, despite n-compass priding itself on its dynamism and keen ability to adapt to whatever situation it's faced with, the Covid-19 outbreak has presented the Preston-based organisation with a truly unique set of circumstances. And they're more than up to the challenge.
"There's always been huge demand for our services and, with lockdown impacting even more so on people's mental health and not enabling unpaid carers to get sufficient respite, we've had to adapt to ensure people are still supported," says Teresa Jennings, n-compass' Chief Executive. "Our services are needed now more than ever and we've got to keep moving forward.
"Working across the North West and dealing with various lockdown regulations has been quite complicated, but I think we've more than met the challenges thrown at us," adds Teresa, who has been with the charity for five years. "Bringing clarity about where we're at and where we're heading at a time which is really confusing is really important and, from the beginning, I didn't want to be a faceless email to the organisation.
"I challenged myself to maintain a high level of visibility and adapted my own approach, so everyone still feels connected."
Sarah Chilton, n-compass' Deputy Director of Development joined in February and says that since joining the organisation she has been struck by the positive work environment engendered by everyone involved.
"It might sound a little twee but, as a place to work, the biggest thing that's stuck me is the kindness and compassion, which has made adapting to Covid-19 and different work arrangements a lot easier," says Sarah. "We transitioned really rapidly so we could still reach our service-users and to me that shows how caring and flexible an organisation it is.
"We do crucial work across quite a few key areas like carers' services, advocacy, and counselling," Sarah adds. "While I think demand will come to the fore more and more as lockdown is lifted, we're well-placed to react as we re-emerge from the pandemic."
Already operating in Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire, and Cumbria, n-compass is looking to spread its footprint even further across the North going forward so as to help as many people as possible. Through initiatives such as The Lancashire Carers' Service, which supports formal and informal carers at a time when the government squeeze on public spending has culled various social services, they are doing invaluable work.
"We're ambitious and bold and we believe in what we do," explains Sarah. "I've worked for organisations previously who just wanted to grow for the sake of growth, but here it's about helping more people. I really relish the work because even when you've not had the best day, you know you're working for an organisation that does good."
Teresa, who lives in Broughton, agrees. "I want to ensure that n-compass is a great place to work, which is fundamental to our organisation's success," she says. "The nature of our work means we help a range of vulnerable people and, to do that job well, staff need to enjoy it and feel supported and valued. It's all about being kind, open, supportive, and transparent.
"It's amazing work to be involved in; there's a real passion for what we do because we help people get back on their feet," she adds. "We all work for n-compass because we want to make a difference."