Nick Crace founded Reach Volunteering back in 1979, when he realised there was a wealth of skills being underutilised, and many charities crying out for expertise.
We spoke to Nick about why he started Reach 35 years ago and what it was like in the early days:
The contrast between REACH in 1979 and now is breathtaking. Then we had no computers, one telephone line (and a home-made, illegal, answering machine) and a bank account which we could pay into but not draw from, as we were not then incorporated. We could not afford a photocopier, so I did what photocopying was necessary at Reed International on the way to work. The staff was one full-timer, one part-timer, and three volunteers. In 1983 the Evening Standard described REACH as “probably the most efficient charity in the country”.
But the similarities today are equally apparent. There is still the enthusiastic buzz in the office, the same striving to develop new ideas and the same iconoclastic attitude to traditional ways of doing things. And, above all, the same happy approach to an important enterprise, and enjoyment in carrying out work of benefit to voluntary organisations and individuals alike.
“It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty to do”, said Jerome K. Jerome, and the same is as true today as it was a hundred years ago. Having myself been retired for many years I know the feeling of ‘having been dropped from the team’. I congratulate all at REACH, past and present, for tackling so successfully the manpower needs of the third sector as well the misery people can experience when they no longer feel needed.
We have also found a 1979 radio interview by Nick talking about match-making charities and the people with valuable skills. Listen to the interview here:
As we approach Reach’s 35th birthday next week we are so grateful for Nick’s foresight, passion and drive, providing benefits to both charities and volunteers alike and allowing Reach to start its journey 35 years ago.