Lighting Fire in People: Our First Ever Leadership Conference

How do we stay connected as we grow, and ensure our values are reflected in every area of our charity?

How do we stay connected as we grow, and ensure our values are reflected in every area of our charity?


Last week, we were thrilled to host our first ever internal leadership conference which ran over two days online. The idea was to create a space that connected people who were leading on different areas in our organisation from domestic abuse, counselling and family services to governance, client support and communications.


It brought together members of our team who varied in their skillsets and experience and gave our leaders the opportunity to get to know one another, which felt particularly important as we’ve all been working remotely for so long!


However, we didn’t want to do just your average conference, we had to sprinkle a little bit (a lot!) of ‘TLC’ in there. So, throughout the two days, everyone was invited to share their ‘why’. The ‘why’ is based on Simon Sinek’s idea of connecting with your purpose – why do we do the things we do? What is driving us?


“To inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that, together, we can change our world.”.

Simon Sinek
We were warmed to see how incredibly honestly and authentically everyone approached this. People shared their experiences which had led them to be who they are, believe in what they do and ultimately, what led them to work for TLC. Whilst all were unique (one team member even incorporated a sock puppet into their talk!), there were key themes which came through in almost everyone’s ‘why’:

  • Personal experiences of relationships
  • Love for the people who work for TLC
  • The joy they get from their roles and progressive culture at TLC
  • Passion for delivering high quality, holistic services to clients


It was unexpectedly emotional for all of us, but it wouldn’t be a TLC conference without a bit of honesty, emotion and tears!


As the ‘whys’ helped ground us throughout the two days, supported us in getting to know one another and reminded us why we’re all doing what we do, the days were also structured to inspire and update our leaders on key organisational developments. We truly believe by being transparent with one another and keeping people in the loop, you create a more accessible culture and give people the freedom and knowledge to shine their roles.


What else did we get up to?


Day One focused on learning more about the values that drive TLC and updating our leaders on the variety of services we provide, as we’ve changed quite a bit over the last few years.


Our CEO, Michelle Hill, welcomed everyone by first sharing her ‘why’ and inviting staff to open a little something we sent to everyone… can’t go wrong with a pair of cosy on-brand socks and hot chocolate!

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We were delighted to welcome Melodie Crumlin, Chief Executive of the Judy Murray Foundation who shared her leadership journey. Melodie was authentic, personable and reminded us all that we’re not robots, we need to be human. She noted that leadership is not about power, or a title, but ultimately about putting others first and quoted Kathy Austin…


“Managers light a fire under people; leaders light a fire in people”

Kathy Austin


Melodie delivered a Q&A session and provided her ‘top tips’ on leadership:

  • Feeling imposter syndrome kick in? You just have to put your brave pants on!
  • You don’t need to be an expert in everything – your team are there to compliment you
  • Take care of people first, and the people will take care of their tasks


She also discussed managing burnout, both in yourself and with members of your team. She warned against pushing people too hard and that it can be unfair if people can’t keep up with you – you have to allow some breathing room and learn to slow down when necessary.


Passion emerged as a central theme, which is particularly prevalent in the charity sector where people are driven by their values. Melodie expressed a strong passion for what she does and noted the importance of it, however she emphasised that passion needs to be channelled in the right direction. If you’re a leader, remember to ask yourself – is my passion helping or hindering the charities mission? Am I being flexible in my thoughts, plans, or ideals? Can I learn to adapt?


“Passion can cause rigidity. As a leader you have a responsibility to challenge yourself”

Melodie Crumlin

Other key highlights include…

Safety First

Anna presented the latest plans for internal training, including safeguarding and First Aid. Head of Business Services – Marian Mallery, and our Head of Business Intelligence, Chris Cowen updated us on Information Governance and how we can respect our client’s rights and keep their data safe. We’ve made huge improvements to our digital infrastructure in the last 18 months which helps us empower staff with the information they need, protect our clients and ensure that our services are having an impact on people’s lives.

The Role of the Board
One of our newer Trustees, Adiba Sultan  bravely shared her ‘why’ and provided our team with insight into the role of the board. She said she considered the board to be a ‘critical friend’ for TLC and that being a Trustee is about hard work, belief in the mission, supporting and prioritising both staff and clients.

The Year Ahead
Michelle outlined TLC’s vision for the next year and some exciting developments, including; launching our first Equality & Diversity Strategy, a new website, a new Pay & Reward Policy and the further rolling out of digital infrastructure… among many more!


Services & Development Plans
Director of Services, Anna Callaghan provided an overview of our 28+ services (in just 30 minutes, well done Anna!). She was followed by our Head of Development, Emily Williams who discussed the development of TLC and grounded the team by highlighting the tight rope that all charities walk – how do we get funding to deliver services to those who need it, whilst balancing ensuring those services are of the highest quality?

Standing by our Values
Marian outlined our approach to Values-Based recruitment. We’re excited to announce that we are now moving to a more formalised approach to recruiting new members of staff by ensuring their values align with ours. This is a great move for us an organisation and alongside our Equality & Diversity strategy which was presented by Trustee –  Alvin Raymode, felt like a positive step towards not just talking the talk, but making sure as a charity we walk the walk!


The conference was concluded by Emily, who collated our client’s feedback into a long-form poem. It served as a positive reminder for why TLC is here and we all work everyday to support individuals, families and communities.


“I didn’t much like myself, you see, the things I’d said and done. You somehow guided blamelessly, and helped me get myself unravelled from this web I’d spun”

We’d like to thank our team for taking time out of their schedules to join us for the two days and showing up with enthusiasm, authenticity and honesty. We’d also like to thank all our speakers for giving their time and sharing their experiences.

Roll on next year’s conference!


If you were interested in having any of our team present for your organisations, or wish to learn more about our services, contact our Marketing & Communications Manager – Paige Hughes.


If you wanted to discuss our services and potentially work with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Emily Williams for a friendly, informal chat.