Tell us a little bit about yourself…
I'm Eleanor Gingell from Milton Keynes and I'm a Chartered Member. I'm a Senior Planner for Pegasus Planning Group, having recently moved from Local Government. I have been a volunteer with PAE for seven years.
Photo shows Eleanor on the left, with PAE's Stella Scrivener.
What encouraged you to get involved in Planning Aid England?
I was encouraged by my first ever manager to get involved with Planning Aid to try to understand planning from a different perspective and encourage critical reflection over what we do in the workplace.
What kinds of activities have you been involved in so far?
When I started volunteering I was a non-chartered RTPI member, so I got involved in activities such as taking minutes, being a 'bag carrier'. I became chartered in 2011 and since then have supported Neighbourhood Planning groups directly with project planning, training, developing ideas into plans and policy writing.
Not all my volunteering is what's known as 'direct support'. Due to my role as a planning consultant I have to be careful to manage potential conflicts of interest and this limits the number of groups I can work with. However, there are still opportunities: I have supported Planning Aid England by speaking at events about the work volunteers do, helping to train new volunteers, facilitating workshops, assisting on the PAE stall at the RTPI Politicians in Planning Conference, and joining in with the South-East committee (often when driving between meetings!).
How has your volunteering helped your professional development?
The beauty of volunteering with Planning Aid England is that there's always something you can do to help and you will always learn something new
It's a chance to give unbiased, impartial advice...and like my manager said all those years ago, reflect on what we do "in the day job". The beauty of volunteering with Planning Aid England is that there's always something you can do to help and you will always learn something new either from other volunteers, or the people you are supporting. It is also a fantastic opportunity to make contact with like minded professionals, communities and other people you may never meet if it weren't for PAE.
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone thinking about volunteering?
Don't be afraid to say "No"...there will be times when real life happens; this is part of being a volunteer and you're no less important just because you couldn't make a meeting!
If you're interested in volunteering for Planning Aid England...
Please see our How to apply page.