Monday, 16 May 2016

Where it (the fundraising) all started

This weekend 15,000 women and men took to the streets of London as part of a charity walk. Not any charity walk, but 13 or 26 miles overnight, with everyone wearing a decorated bra. They were raising money for Walk the Walk – a grant-making charity who fund projects researching breast cancer and caring for women living with the disease.

The MoonWalk will always have a place in my heart as it’s where my fundraising career started. Nine years ago I was living in Woking (don’t ask), looking for temp work that would bring some cash in. An incredible agency took the time to ask me what my long term career goals were and I was offered a data entry job at Walk the Walk, processing donation forms.

At the time I was naive to how hard it can be to break into the charity sector, especially if you can’t afford to be a London intern.

It wasn’t glamorous (litter picking after working 24 hours), and it didn’t utilise any of my degree. But it threw me into the deep end of working in a busy, dedicated team of brilliant individuals with a unified desire to make the world a better place.

It saddens me that young people today are deterred from our sector. I want to be out in colleges and universities, to dispel any myths and offer support to the next generation of fundraisers. Who’s with me?

Monday, 2 May 2016

Use your heart AND your head #LondonMayor2016

14 years ago I sat in a classroom in Somerset, aspiring to change the world. Politics was one of my A-Levels. I remember two things: 1) Don't trust The Sun; 2) The pros and cons of different electoral systems.

The value of the second rarely surfaces. Other than weeks like this, when London votes for our new Mayor. 

It's a Bank Holiday so I'll keep it brief:
  1. This is a Supplementary Vote - different to our General Elections.
  2. You can vote two candidates, in order of preference.
  3. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two are taken through to the next round where SECOND CHOICES MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
  4. But only if the second choice is for one of the remaining two, and the first choice has been eliminated.
Vote for who you wish. Use your heart in your first choice. But consider using your head for your second, and don't leave it blank! 

If you've been in the pub this afternoon (lucky you), what I mean is, by all means vote Green or Women's Equality top but please don't waste your second choice - make it Labour.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Sending love and blessings

May 1st is powerful day. Whatever your faith or beliefs, I invite you to join me in taking it as an opportunity to set intentions for the months ahead. And allow those intentions to be for yourself but also others. Others you know and others you don't.

Particular love to those who will be joining in Beltane celebrations in Edinburgh tonight. Next year, I'll be by your side. x

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Today I gave £1,000 to charity

Last month I was given £1,000 by my bosses. Not a bonus, but a gift for others. And it was my decision on who to give it to.

Today Open gave £60,000 to UK charities. To mark this moment, we took the afternoon to share with each other who we’d each donated to and why. 

It’s never an easy decision but these are the charities who I chose to give to:

1)      Save the Children

Save the Children do incredible work, all year round and all across the world.

I’ve recently spent time with journalists and have asked them why only certain global events are reported in our media. How can it be in a digital and globalised world most of us are oblivious to the fact that 16,000 children die each day, many from causes that could be prevented? I’m not convinced by their response, but perhaps it’s a reflection of our joint responsibility.

I admire Save the Children’s dedication to all children, regardless of the front pages that day.

2)      CND

In February this year I joined the thousands of people who took to London’s streets to protest against the renewal of Trident.

What struck me that day were the number of people (and particularly women) in the crowds who were old enough to be my grandparent. I imagine they were at Greenham Common in 1982. And to this day their dedication and belief in a cause hasn’t wavered.

We need more charities like CND who will speak up, organise, lead a movement and make real difference with their campaigning. Without them I fear our individual voices are lost in the noise.

3)      Cats Protection 

This is Bramble

Our family took Bramble into our home when I had just turned 13. Last year we said our last good byes. Although a cat described as having ‘zero pet value’, I loved him. So this final donation is in memory of him.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Justice for the 96

How today's ruling about the Hillsborough disaster could have taken 27 years remains a disgrace. And David Cameron should make an apology on behalf of his party. Which he won't.

But it goes to prove that you should never, ever, give up in what you believe in.

Now playing

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Monica Lewinsky: what she can teach us all

"We all want to be heard, but let's acknowledge the difference between speaking up with intention and speaking up for attention."

So many of my role models are just that because of the way they communicate - whether it be through words, music or speech; the skill of effective communication is one I admire and strive towards.

This morning I watched and listened to Monica Lewinsky warning the world of the dangers of public shaming.

Pause for a moment and imagine the outpouring on social media if a story like Monica's was to break today. It's terrifying.

How do we get this 20 minute video in front of every young person in this country? To witness such a feat of strength, eloquence and dignity is a rare opportunity. But it's exactly these traits we should all embed within ourselves, especially when posting and sharing in our digital world.

I was brought up with the 'If you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything at all' mantra. However, as she says, we all want to be heard! And never has there been more opportunity to make a noise. FFS, let's use this collective noise for good.

Ironically a Tweet is anything but a throw-away comment. It will exist forever on the internet and in the mind of the recipient. High profile individuals such as Stella Creasy have found the strength to fight their abusers. But the stories of young people who didn't know how to, or couldn't, find that strength are a disgrace to our society.

The power of voices on the internet is a force we're yet to comprehend. The list of achievements is growing by the day: No More Page 3, overturning the banning of gay scout leaders, and the release of Meriam Yahya. Young people today are being written off for not engaging in politics/Politics. It's a shortsighted view. A digital tidal wave of a new politics has formed and we have the power to shape it.

But for this wave not to consume or destroy us we all have a responsibility to each other. Our comments, Tweets, blogs and posts may not be Cyberbullying. But we can lead by example and use every opportunity to use the internet for good.

Read here how UK charity Anti-Bullying Pro is fighting all forms of bullying.