I have been shortlisted for the Nicest Job In Britain and given a challenge…

On the 4th September, I wrote a blog post titled ‘Why I applied for The Nicest Job in Britain. (NJIB)
I had submitted my 60 second application video and used the blog post as part of my #HireSali Campaign, to encourage people to ‘vote’ for me.

I am delighted to share with you that I have been shortlisted for The Nicest Job, which involves working with 40 charities over 12 months. I, and the other 7 shortlisted candidates, have each been allocated a charity to work (drawn from a ‘hat’ containing the aforementioned 40 charities) and have been challenged – to raise as much money and awareness – as possible, for our allocated charity, by 2nd October. I have been given Winston’s Wish, the charity for bereaved children, which is particularly poignant, as I was a bereaved child myself.

Many years ago, I volunteered at the head office of Winston’s Wish, helping with admin and mail-shots. In addition, I assisted with a few of the charity’s promotions in the Regent Arcade, Cheltenham and took my daughters and one of my friends, carol singing – locally – with Winston’s Wish ‘collection buckets’. My perception at the time was that Winston’s Wish was a very well-known, well-supported charity, so when I was tasked by NJIB to ‘raise as much awareness as possible’ of the charity, I wondered what I could do to further awareness of a charity which was already so well-known.

I have always been taught, and in turn have coached others, never to ‘assume’ so I decided to start my challenge with a straw-pole, asking my Facebook friends whether they were aware of Winston’s Wish or not. They just had to comment with a ‘yes’, or a ‘no’. The results surprised me. There was a very clear 50/50 split, with the friends living in and around Gloucestershire answering ‘yes’ and those living further away (although as close as Wiltshire) answering ‘no’. The exceptions were the friends who had used, or knew someone who had used, the services of the charity. The results gave me a lots of scope to ‘raise awareness’.

Did you know that every day, in the UK, more than 100 children are bereaved of a parent? Winston’s Wish has a vision that every bereaved child has access to support as and when they need it and a mission to ensure the resilience of bereaved children by providing high quality services that meet their needs.

Julie Stokes created the charity in 1992. Julie was a clinical psychologist at the time and it was an interaction with the son of a terminally ill patient, which propelled her into investigating how children with a terminally ill parent and bereaved children could be better served. She travelled to the USA and Canada on a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship and was so inspired by what she saw, that she returned to the UK and set up Winston’s Wish, which has since become the leading childhood bereavement charity in the UK.

So what is Winston’s Wish and what does the charity do? Winston’s Wish supports children, their families and the professionals who support them following the death of a parent or sibling – the most fundamental loss a child can face. The charity provides professional therapeutic support via a National Helpline, face-to-face support and a website.
Not only does their website offer a wealth of information and guidance, which is divided into helpful categories, and translated into several different languages (Spanish, Bengali, Swedish, Arabic and Polish) but it also offers a ‘Helpline’, which is available on 08452 03 04 05 and operates Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm.

Death comes in many forms, and the Winston’s Wish website offers a range of information and advice on topics such as ‘dealing with serious illness’, ‘talking about death’, ‘bereavement from suicide’, ‘bereavement from homicide’,’ supporting children of military families’ and much more. There is also a specialist area of the website for young people, for professionals and also an online shop with plenty of expert publications and resources for free and for sale.

Winston’s Wish is a national charity, which is reliant on voluntary donations – they need to raise £2.5million every year to continue their support for bereaved children and their families. In 2014/15 these donations equated to 93% of their income. For every £1 they spend, 74p goes on direct delivery. Charities are being scrutinised regarding the cost of fundraising campaigns, but I am pleased to report that for every £1 Winston’s Wish spends on fundraising, they raise £4.47 which is an incredibly impressive return on investment.

I have embraced the challenge to raise funds for this wonderful charity and have set up a Facebook page called A Penny 4 Your Memory, where I am encouraging people to leave a happy or funny memory, which not only makes them smile or laugh, but will do the same for others reading the post. When they leave a memory, they also make a donation to Winston’s Wish via www.givepenny.com/apenny4yourmemory Within 49 hours of being created, the Givepenny page reached the £500 target I had set, so I have amended the target to £750. Please do visit the Facebook page, leave a happy memory, donate and take time to read (and interact) with the memories which have already been posted. Warning… doing so may produce a warm, fuzzy feeling.

And for those of you who might be interested… my interview for The Nicest Job in Britain is on Monday 3rd October. Please wish me luck and please do share this blog post, to help me raise awareness of, and funds for, Winston’s Wish. This is more than just a NJIB challenge to me. Thank you.

Why I applied for The Nicest Job in Britain.

I recently applied for the The Nicest Job In Britain.  As a qualified life and business coach, one of the golden nuggets I frequently pass on to clients is the old adage “if you find a job where you can follow your passion, it won’t feel as if you’re working at all!” I followed my passion around twelve years ago, when I set up a small business helping people and other businesses to set and achieve their goals.  I combined this with my other passion – voluntary work.  Over the years I have managed to get my work/volunteering balance just right… actually perhaps I should clarify that… for half of that time (at least) I have been doing more voluntary work than paid work, because it’s the organisations which need me most (the fledgling charities and ‘good causes’) which can least afford me. Hand on heart, I didn’t mind… because as long as I could pay my mortgage, my bills and feed the family, all was well in my world.  I’m not a materialistic person – I’ll happily buy my clothes in Tesco or Sainsbury’s (preferably in the sales!!) and although I do miss ‘holidays’, there’s nothing that quite matches the feeling you get when you ‘feed your soul’ and helping other people feeds mine.  In fact, I often treat my soul to a lavish banquet!

I first heard of Luke Cameron when the media covered his ‘Good Deed Diary’, early in 2014.  I could immediately relate to what he was doing – I always help others at any and every opportunity. To me, Luke was a kindred spirit. I’m the driver who stops to offer help if someone’s car has broken down, I offer to help carry shopping if I see someone struggling, I’ve helped to pay for people’s shopping and parking charges when they are short of money… it’s what I do. It’s second nature. I’ve always done it and it perpetually perplexes me how so many people will drive past cars that have broken down, or ignore people who are obviously struggling.. 

In August 2014, I messaged Luke through ‘The Good Deed Diary’ Facebook page and asked him whether he would share a blog post about the 2014 Pink Car Rally.  He did…

It was towards the end of 2014 when I next noticed Luke in the media.  He had been appointed as National Philanthropy Manager for Utility Aid, a Midlands-based organisation which aims to help charities reduce their energy spend.  It was deemed to be ‘The Nicest Job in Britain’ and when I read what it entailed, I remember thinking that it was my dream-job and how lucky Luke was to be employed to help charities, and not have to worry about his bills etc.

Fast-forward to August 2016. I was glancing through a newspaper when I saw #TheNicestJobInBritain mentioned. It caught my eye immediately and when I read the article, my heart nearly stopped! Luke was working on a new initiative with The Nicest Job In Britain Creator, Gary Blowers, to recruit a National Philanthropy Manager.  The relaunched role is sponsored by Givergy, an organisation which exists to help charities raise more money at their fundraising events and online which, with its similar ethos to The Nicest Job, made it the idea official partner for 2016/17.

Applicants for the role (you have until 16th September 2016 to apply) are asked to submit a 60 second video application, telling their story and illustrating ‘why’ they should have the nicest job.  In addition, each applicant needs to drum-up support from as many media channels as possible.  Here is my application. Please take 60 seconds to watch it and if you like it, then please use the small icons below it to ‘like’ and ‘share’ it… and please press the all-important VOTE button to vote for me. It literally takes a few seconds – no sign-up is required.  All votes count and you can vote for me once a day, EVERY day if you wish. 

What does the @NicestJob entail? Well the successful applicant will get to work with 40 pre-chosen charities (charities were previously invited to apply to be part of this amazing initiative) over a 12 month period, helping them in whatever way is needed for 4 days and then blogging about the experience.  The charities are located across the UK, so the successful applicant will be given a #NicestJob emblazoned car to drive, in addition to a salary of £30,000pa. 

Why have I applied? I have to say that I want this job so much that it hurts! I feel I have so much to offer; a ‘do more’ attitude, a plethora of skills gained in the both the charity and commercial sectors, I’m a strong communicator who is adept at building relationships, I’m keen and willing to learn new things, I’m confident, I am used to inspiring and motivating others, I’m a people person and a trusted confidant, I have a very kind heart, endless enthusiasm, plenty of passion and a desire to help people.  I refer to myself as a Time Philanthropist and like nothing more than to ‘pay it forward’.  I am also a RAKtavist – part of a group of like-minded people who enjoy performing Random Acts of Kindness. This National Philanthropy Manager role encapsulates who I am – if I was asked to create the perfect job for myself, this is exactly what I would have created. If by reading this blog post you feel I am the right person for the role, then please support my #HireSali campaign by voting for me…. (daily if possible)… and help me to help the following 40 charities in 12 months.  Each of the charities is hyperlinked either to their Facebook page or their website. If there are any on the list that you haven’t heard of before, why not click through to find out what they do?

Sali x

  1. RSPCA (England & Wales)
  2. Joseph’s Hospice
  3. The Lauren Currie Twilight Foundation
  4. Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity
  5. Changing Faces
  6. Children’s Liver Disease Foundation
  7. Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice
  8. Creating Better Futures
  9. Music in Hospitals
  10. Meningitis Research Foundation
  11. Mind
  12. Helen Rollason Cancer Charity – HRCC
  13. Henshaws
  14. Churn Project
  15. Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity
  16. Sport 4 Life UK
  17. The Brain Charity
  18. CHICKS Country Holidays for Inner City Kids
  19. Jubilee Sailing Trust
  20. Mark’s Hospital Foundation
  21. Faith in Water
  22. Teenage Cancer Trust
  23. Samaritans
  24. Toybox
  25. Little Princess Trust
  26. Julia’s House Children’s Hospice
  27. Winston’s Wish – the charity for bereaved children
  28. Theodora Children’s Charity
  29. Friendship at Home
  30. Step up to Serve
  31. Maria Cristina Foundation
  32. vinspired.com
  33. Off The Record (Bristol)
  34. FPA – the sexual health charity
  35. Visyon
  36. Daisy Chain Charity Superstore
  37. Help Appeal – County Air Ambulance Trust
  38. PAFRAS
  39. Gloucestershire Pride
  40. Mary Stephens Hospice

Speaking for those who have no voice!

DREAMS – we all have them…

There are even charities which exist to grant dreams to children and young adults, but I discovered something yesterday which rocked my faith in charities and brought me down to earth with a big bump! It also propelled me to write this post.

First I want you to consider something.  If you have ever had children, think back to the time before they were verbal. Do you remember how you learnt to understand what they needed/wanted? How you, as a parent, were as one with your non-verbal child. Did you ever have people saying your child was hungry, when in fact you knew he/she was simply over-stimulated and needed a nap? No-one understands the needs of a child better than a parent.

Perhaps you have a dog? Dogs are non-verbal, but as a dog owner you learn to communicate with them in a non-verbal way, understanding their needs/wants.

Some children who are born healthy can develop illnesses/diseases which have a profound effect on them.  They may have a normal, happy childhood and then ‘BOOM’ everything changes.  Suddenly they are no longer able to do the things they once did.  Some are robbed of any chance of a ‘normal’ life and exist in a world where they can no longer use their voice to communicate.  Sadly, some children are born with a disease which means they will never be able to talk.

Yesterday I read a Facebook post written by the father of a non-verbal 17 year old, who has a life-limiting disorder and who is on a palliative care pathway.  This father knows that his son loves Disney characters and that a visit to Disneyland would be a dream come true for his son.  His son has not voiced this dream, of course… he has no voice to do so!  The family decided that they would take their son to Disneyland and that they would fund the trip themselves, with the help of a Crowdfunding platform.  Donations are coming in, insurance , accommodation, car hire and flights are sorted.  The family just needs a bit of help with tickets – time is running out.  So the father approached a well-known ‘Wish’ charity to ask for support with the tickets, only to be told that his son needs to express the wish himself! WHAT??? They said what?  They had been told that he can’t communicate and his inability to do so means he can’t be granted a wish! How uncharitable is that?  Another charity which grants wishes ONLY does so to children suffering from life-threatening cancers! WHAT??? I have spent years supporting charities; donating, fundraising, raising awareness, as well as working for some on a consultancy basis and whilst I understand that there has to be set criteria, insisting that a child verbalises their dream is nothing short – in my opinion – of discriminatory.  For a charity only to grant ‘dreams’ to children with cancer is beyond sad.  Mitochondrial disease kills more children than childhood cancer.  It comes in many forms – all life-limiting, some terminal.  No Voices

I spent a few hours yesterday looking at the ‘criteria’ in the small print of several ‘wish giving’ charities, whilst wondering what donors would think of these restrictive policies.  What do YOU think?  If you’re as upset as I am, please share this post and help raise awareness of this poor practice. 

If you would like to support this family, here is Kieran’s GoFundMe page 

Kieran’s father, Paul Preston, created The Children’s Mitochondrial Disease Network (CMDM) in 1998 to support other families, raise awareness and campaign for improved treatment and management of mitochondrial disorders, after the death of his own daughter, Kirsten, in 1992.  She was just 8 weeks old.  Last year, Kirsten and Kieran’s sister, Stacey, died from mitochondrial disease.  She was just 20. She was Paul’s inspiration for twenty years!  This article will tell you more.

I truly believe that Paul Preston and his wife understand their son and know that a visit to Disney would be very special to him. Would it be his verbalised dream, if he could speak? If only he could tell us… because it’s the only way he’ll get support from some of the ‘dream’ charities.

If you would like to know whether Kieran gets to go to Disneyland, please follow Kieran’s Mitochondrial Journey and Wishes Facebook page.

Kieran

 

 

 

I give… because it feeds my soul

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.  It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran

 

I follow @michaelchatman on Twitter. Michael is a ‘Global Ambassador of Giving’ and “one of America’s most listened to voices in philanthropy”.  He hosts #WHYiGive, every Tuesday on Twitter, where he encourages his followers to say – in 141 characters, including the hashtag #WHYiGive – why THEY give.  The reasons given are inspirational  – and varied. 

Reading through the tweets made me reflect on why I give and there is only one answer – because it feeds my soul.

I have met a lot of people in life who haven’t quite got the hang of ‘giving’.  Take volunteering, for example.  Someone I thought I knew really well once said to me “I don’t understand why anyone would ever choose to volunteer.  Why would anyone do something for nothing?” The comment made me look at that person in a whole different light.  I realised I really didn’t know them at all.  I tried to explain, but it was futile and that made me very sad.  Why? Because that person will never know the joy that volunteering brings… the warm cosy feeling you get when you know you have helped someone… if you have ever volunteered, you will know what I mean.

‘Giving’ means different things to different people.  For some people it simply means buying gifts for their friends and family, especially on birthdays and other special occasions.  Sometimes they then tell the people who they had so much fun buying presents for, ‘not’ to buy a gift in return.  They can be quite adamant about it.  They may take this stance for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is that they are depriving their friends and family of the joy of giving, which could be perceived as being a little selfish.  Ben Carson famously stated “Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.” Have you ever had great pleasure in buying, wrapping, giving a gift to someone and then instructed them not to buy for you? Perhaps you don’t really ‘need’ anything, or you may think that they can’t afford to buy you a gift? There can be many reasons for making such a request, but perhaps a kinder approach would be to explain that you don’t really need anything, but you do have a fondness for….. and suggest something that they could make/easily afford, e.g. fruit cake, chocolate truffles, breakfast tea….. Or after explaining that you don’t really need anything, you could add “unless you happen to see any (suggest something unusual and inexpensive) because I can’t buy it anywhere.” This not only relaxes the ‘no giving’ rule, but with most things being available via the internet it will enable them to do a quick search, hopefully find the item and experience the joy of buying, wrapping, giving…. knowing that they have bought the perfect gift for you!

Another form of ‘giving’ is the increasingly popular Random Acts of Kindness (RAK).  In fact, I am a RAKtivist. Social Media is full of tales of RAKs, for example people paying for the groceries which the person behind them in the queue had planned to buy, food and drink being given to homeless people, special messages being written on restaurant bills for the waiting staff and indeed, the waiting staff writing messages on the receipts for special customers.  Acts of kindness towards strangers is not a new phenomenon and many of us grew up with ‘helping others’ as a core value, which was reinforced at Brownies, Cubs, Girl Guides, Scouts, The Girls Brigade and within many other groups to which we may have belonged.  Other core values were to respect your elders, to speak when you’re spoken to, to give up your seat on public transport for a lady, or a mother & child, or an elderly person… the list was endless and sadly many of those values seem to have been diluted with the passing of time.  Perhaps, in the future, all of the old traditional values will become de rigueur, but for the time being let’s concentrate on giving.

My favourite type of giving, is when I give my time and energy to someone who needs help with something, which they would have struggled to have done on their own.  I don’t like to see anyone struggle, so if I have the capacity to help them, I will.  We all have different skills and abilities; sharing them with each other, and giving a little of ourselves, can make a huge difference both to us and to those around us.  I am convinced that everyone has something to give, if they choose to.  Sadly not everyone chooses to, although people like Michael Chatman and organisations such as Kindness UK may encourage them to change.  A banner on the Kindness UK website quotes Princes Diana “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”  November 13th is both World Kindness Day & Kindness Day UK – the perfect day for Giving and the perfect day to feed your soul.