Becoming a charity and introducing our new Spokesperson Network

Today we are making two big announcements. The first is that we have been granted charitable status. We've always felt that our work was for the public benefit and felt that this was the right time in our journey to become a CIO. And secondly, we announce our cohort of 14 individuals who will be taking part in our new spokesperson programme for grassroots leaders with lived experience of social injustice and social inequality.

Today we are making two big announcements.The first is that we have been granted charitable status. We’ve always felt that our work was for the public benefit and felt that this was the right time in our journey to become a CIO. 

The core of our work remains the same. Our vision of a more equitable society where people with lived experience are part of creating social change. We work alongside people with direct experience of social injustice and inequality to advocate for themselves and their communities publicly by providing training, support and mentoring, media meet ups and media opportunities. We work to address representation and diversity of voice in the media, finding platforms for our networks and building long term trusted relationships with journalists. We tackle the barriers that prevent these experts from engaging with the media. We also believe in a confident social sector able to develop and amplify lived experience stories and expertise to address social inequalities so work closely with charities to help them develop and train their own panels and spokespeople.

Our Spokesperson Network programme will be the backbone of our organisation and we work alongside a growing network of diverse media confident spokespeople.

And that brings us to my second announcement. Today we announce our cohort of 14 individuals who will be taking part in our new spokesperson programme for grassroots leaders with lived experience of social injustice and social inequality. The programme sets out to build their skills, confidence, networks and platforms to enable them to become more media confident and public spokespeople offering their expertise and insight to the big issues facing us today. Covid19 has shown that this work is as important as ever with social inequalities becoming even more stark through the pandemic. 

I had no idea how difficult it was going to be to create a shortlist when we received 77 applications from across England for the 14 places on the programme. Each one of the applications I read showed a real need to address systems that had failed them by speaking publicly about their experiences and offering solutions to change. 

We wanted to ensure that the shortlisting process was fair and transparent. We worked with Rosa Friend at the Cares Family to talk through how they recruited for their Multipliers programme and developed their criteria. Six people took part in our shortlisting process including Simeon and Amanda from our pilot cohort, a media consultant and one of our Trustees. The sounddelivery team conducted the interviews alongside one member of our pilot cohort. We spent days shortlisting and hours having conversations about the applications. I think everyone involved in the process was disappointed that we were unable to put everyone on the programme. It was a really difficult decision.  

I want to introduce you to our new network

Aisha Sanusi co-directs the African Caribbean Education Network and is seeking to address current issues of Black under-representation in Independent and Grammar schools and improve the experiences of black children once there. 

Beth Thomas is the Mentoring Scheme Co-Ordinator & Safeguarding Director at Our Place Support, a social enterprise based in North Birmingham. Beth is passionate about using her own experiences to inspire others who have experienced trauma and issues with their mental health.

Chloe Deakin is a multi-disciplinary producer, who uses her expertise in communications, digital media, and youth work to promote healing, and growth within disenfranchised communities across the midlands. 

Chloe Juliette is a passionate and active member of the care experienced community and works as a qualitative social researcher, with the hope of supporting better policy making. 

Craig Jones is the Joint Chief Executive of the military LGBT+ charity Fighting With Pride and the principle leader of the Armed Forces LGBT+ community in the difficult years after the ‘ban’ was lifted. 

Debs Teale is an advocate of creativity in health following her own remarkable mental health journey. She is a Trustee at the National Centre for Creative Health as well as a member of the Social Prescribing Network and Social Prescribing Academy.

Donna Weaver is a proud kinship carer of three, Director of the charity Kinship Carers UK, and a member of Family Rights Group Panel.  Donna is generating awareness and seeking change for future kinship carers. 

Eliza Rebeiro is the Co-Founder and current CEO of @LNKCharity based in Croydon that aims to reduce youth violence by engaging, educating and empowering up to 10,000 young people a year. 

Jazz Moreton is an audio artist who has multiple disabilities as a result of surviving a stroke as a teenager. She has a drive for genuine equality, creating positive social change through art and the Arts.

Jodie Beck is a campaigner, organiser and co-founder of Our Empty Chair which brings together the voices of full hearts separated by prison.

John Crilly is a campaigner with the not-for-profit campaigning group JENGbA after being wrongfully convicted under Joint Enterprise himself. JENGbA campaign on behalf of, and with, those wrongfully convicted and are campaigning to reform legal abuse by Joint Enterprise. 

Marie Van Herteryck is a Co-Founder of  Neuro Diverse Self Advocacy.  Marie entered the autism space by advocating and dealing with her childrens’ diagnosis and SEN provisions at school and soon she realised that autism was the name for what her life experiences were too.

Nasar Iqbal is the Founder and Director of Black Country Innovate, challenging and reducing all forms of hate crimes across the Borough of Walsall.

Zinthiya Ganeshp is the founder and CEO of the Zinthiya Trust a charity set up in 2009 aimed at supporting women and families in Leicester and Leicestershire to be free from poverty and abuse.

We really look forward to working with this group alongside our network from our pilot cohort and amplifying their work. We also want to say a huge thank you to our funders who’ve supported this programme; Lankelly Chase, The Tudor Trust and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

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