Jonathan Monckton is Director of the charity RPLC, which distributes crisis, winter fuel and education grants to people in need as well as supporting local charities and community organisations
I am wide awake by 5.30 every morning. The bus trip from Putney Heath to work in Richmond is regularly shared with a teacher, nursery nurse, cleaners and hotel staff. Avoiding the rush hour traffic, I am at my desk shortly after 6.30 on most days, which gives me some quiet time to clear my ‘in’ tray and manage emails.
RPLC was established in 1786, during the reign of George III. As well as helping people in need, the charity also has property assets including charitable housing, with the tenants benefiting from subsidised rents. Ultimately RPLC is about doing all it can to help people gain self-confidence, become involved in society and, where appropriate, move into employment.While the local area is generally perceived to be affluent, there are areas of real need that can so easily be ignored. Some of these include loneliness among older people, homelessness, transgenerational dependency on benefits and high levels of alcohol and drug abuse among young teenagers. Through its various activities, RPLC tries to do what it can to meet these needs and improve the capacity of local organisations working in the field.
The bulk of my day is spent on managing the property and financial aspects of the charity while retaining oversight of grant and education activities. I believe that the voluntary sector can benefit from working more closely together. I keep in touch with other funders such as the Barnes Workhouse Fund, Hampton Fuel Allotment Charity and Richmond Charities.
At lunchtime, a brief visit to Richmond Deli often leads to a sharing of local gossip, alternatively a brisk walk along the river can clear the air.
It is particularly good to know that some relatively straightforward activities can help transform peoples’ lives for the better. We often hear of people suddenly affected by bad luck – a traffic accident or illness for example – who then end up in serious financial difficulty. It is good to be in a position to offer them financial assistance to see them through.
Occasionally it can be remarkable how things turn out. I once had a visit from a homeless man, who was living in a tent near the river. Two weeks later a property became available that was ideal for him. The best thing was to see his beaming smile when he visited me a few days later in denims, covered in splatters of paint – so happy to have a place to call his own.
At the end of the day, a four mile walk home across Richmond Park is perfect – if the weather isn’t too bad!