Published 15 June 2021

It's Small Charity Week #BigAdviceDay: Take time to reflect – why reflection is a necessity, not a luxury

By Stevie Back, our VCS Support Officer

We’ve spent a lot of the last 15 months looking forward, planning for an uncertain future and trying to anticipate what will and won’t be possible in line with the current and upcoming COVID restrictions.  

Taking time to think and reflect always seems to get squeezed off the agenda when we’re firefighting or in ‘survival mode’, worrying about the immediate future.  

Today on Big Advice Day, my advice (as much to myself as to you) is to pause. To take time to think and reflect. This might be on your own, with your team, with your service users, or with all of your stakeholders together. Prioritise taking time to think deeply about your work and to reflect on the last 15 months.  

Reflective questions to consider

Often though, it’s not only finding the time to reflect that’s challenging but knowing where to start. Here are some questions to get you started: 

  • Why does our work matter? Why do we exist? What are we trying to achieve? 
  • What is the need we are addressing? How are we meeting it? Are we still meeting it? 
  • What has been our biggest achievement of the last 15 months? 
  • What has been the biggest challenge? What have we learnt? 
  • How do we want to work going forward? How might we come back better than before? 

Reflection is a necessity, not a luxury

As community organisations, our community and its needs must be at the core of what we do. I’ve been speaking to lots of local charity leaders recently that are investing time in community engagement to ensure their activities are responding to what people want and need.  

Without having open conversations with your community and creating time for reflection, how can you have the confidence to grow and develop and to pitch your project to funders?   

Reflection is not a ‘nice-to-have’, it is vital to the sustainability of your project and organisation.  

It will allow you to: 

  • Engage in the meaning and purpose of your work  
  • Explore new ideas 
  • Have confidence in the direction you’re taking 
  • Evidence the need in order to generate more income  
  • Do better by your community 


Create a culture of reflection 

Making reflection a regular part of your work will push you from strength to strength. Plan this time to think into your week or your month and you’ll see the impact it will have. Small things like discussing what didn’t go so well last week or with a given project can help develop a learning culture with a focus on positive improvement and enable you to build back better.   

Now is a great time to take stock. In order to plan it is vital that we take time to reflect and look backwards as well as forwards. 

How can we support you? 

If you’d like any support in working through the questions or perhaps a listening ear as you embark on this time of reflection, book a 30-minute Organisational Support Appointment here

Also, take a look at the training we are running and our useful resources.

Get involved!

Please tweet us if you are up to anything for #BigAdviceDay: @cosouthwark. Plus, take a look at what's happening for Big Advice Day on the NCVO website here and get involved. 

Let's say thank you: #SouthwarkStars2021

We want to say a huge thank you to all our small charities and this also includes the amazing volunteers who have signed up to support them. We are holding our annual Southwark Stars Awards Ceremony on the 24 June at 6pm, please do join us to say thank you to all of our Southwark volunteers. Grab a place here