Podcast Summary: 50 Giving Back to the Community with Kelly Allen

Kelly Allen is a Building Surveyor with a history of working in the construction industry. For the past four years, she has been working for Faithorn Farrell Timms LLP.

A campaigner for the industry, she leads outreach programmes to educational facilities and charities to promote the profession and inspire young talent. She drives fundraising incentives for various charities supporting community-based youth clubs and individuals who are without homes.

Having won the 2019 Young Surveyor of The Year Award, she has since utilised her platform within the profession to help those suffering adversities. She prides herself in being an inspirational speaker and a positive advocate for mental health and wellbeing.

Starting In the Industry

Kelly Allen went to college to become a carpenter, but since the course was full, she was admitted to Construction and the Environment. There were several different units there that related to surveying, in which she all excelled. She talks about how this experience has influenced her career path.

“It was from there that I started to think, ‘Well, maybe I could.’ The next step for me was to be a site manager. After every unit that I passed, I was able to look further and further to where I wanted to end up. Eventually I realized that I wanted to be a surveyor. I went to a recruitment agency for surveyors and just put myself forward, and asked them to find me something in the city. They found me a position iin a well known firm in London.”

How to Ask for Advice

During the pandemic, the work has increased, but the dynamics has changed. While working remotely allowed for some new opportunities, such as fitting more meetings into one day and saving travel time, it has changed the way people connect and work together. This can be particularly challenging for people in need of mentoring experiences. Kelly talks about how she overcame this obstacle, but also about the importance of asking for advice. 

“What I’ve done is I joined a few WhatsApp groups with other professionals on their APC journey, so we can bounce questions off each other for support. The problem with being remote is that you question your own abilities.” 

“I used to think that I had to know the answer,” she continues, “or that I’d look stupid if I didn’t know the answer. And what a relief it is today to be able to be handed a piece of work from my boss and to honestly say to him, I have no experience with that, can you share your experience with me? People don’t judge you for that, they help you.”

Openly About Mental Health

Kelly was brought up in a council estate, and after some poor life decisions, she removed herself from the household at the age of 15 and left education. She openly talks about the hardships of this period, living semi-homeless and struggling with mental health issues such as depression and extreme anxiety. She also talks about her resilience and determination to continue with her education.

“I went to college initially because I had my daughter, and I wanted to do more for her. I went back just to get my GCSEs, but when I achieved that, my goal changed and I thought, well, I can go further. And if I’m going to be totally honest, at that time, my self-esteem was really, really low. Once I stepped foot into a university, the old imposter syndrome hit, that they’re going to find me out, that I’m not good enough, all of those feelings. The reason I speak so openly about this today is because I’ve realized that a lot of people suffer with the same thing, especially students. They don’t want to admit that perhaps they are scared, or don’t believe in themselves, because everyone thinks that they should be strong, and it’s going to impact their career if they’re not strong.”

“I truly believe today that everything happened the way it was meant to happen for me to get to where I am today,” she adds, “being able to give back to the housing and to be able to make a change in the communities that we work in.”

Fundraising and Charity Work

After going off the rails as a teenager, it was a community based charity that helped her get back on track, assisting her at various points in her life. She talks about her experience of driving fundraising incentives for charities, supporting community-based youth clubs and individuals who are without homes.

“I started working with a community based charity called JusB, and this came about through FFT and their Effinity Charitable Foundation. A few years ago, they invited all of us to present a charity of choice that we would support through the business for two years. So I came in and I spoke about JustB and what they’ve done for me. I owe a great debt to them because I don’t believe my life would have directed itself in the way that it did without their support. We raised over 35,000 pounds for them over two years, and I continue to work with them today.” 

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