Pick of the Month - August 2020

3 August 2020 | By Naomi Chapman

It may be the school summer holidays, but individuals across the charity sector continue to work hard to support those most in need. This month, we feature a sustainable development charity in Madagascar, a fundraiser working across the arts and social justice, a brilliant young Trustee championing youth leadership and one of the UK’s first social enterprises. 


Charity Leader of the Month


Mark Jacobs is the Managing Director at SEED Madagascar, an award-winning charity which operates in southeast Madagascar, managing a wide range of sustainable development and conservation projects across the Anosy region. Mark first went to Madagascar in 1998 as a research ecologist, leading a team of biologists to study the flora and fauna of the southeast. As the Managing Director, Mark works with the board of Trustees to ensure the smooth running of all aspects of the organisation. Overseeing the fundraising and marketing efforts, volunteer programmes and ongoing development of the organisation, Mark ensures effective communication and between trustees and SEED.

"As cases of Covid-19 start to sharply rise in Madagascar, being the Managing Director of SEED Madagascar has never felt a more important responsibility.  With Madagascar being the poorest country in the world with little in the way of access to clean drinking water, education or healthcare, the potential negative impacts of this deadly virus are daunting.  With limited resources we’ve had to reconfigure our organisation to better fit restrictions imposed by the pandemic and the plethora of emergent new needs. There are numerous challenges one of which will be struggling to engage funders in the west to support the work of organisations like SEED so that we are able to continue to support communities through this dark time"

To address the impact of COVID-19 on the island, SEED Madagascar has developed a mask exchange scheme. UK residents can participate by either buying protective cloth face masks at £5 each, or making masks for others to buy at £5 each. Just one £5 mask sold in the UK can commission 5 masks to be made by skilled community members in Madagascar. All proceeds go to SEED’s COVID-19 appeal.

Follow the journey on Twitter at @SEEDMadagascar


Fellow of the Month


“The last few months have been incredibly challenging. I've been working with various organisations whose practice spans the arts and social justice sectors to secure crisis and stabilisation funding. The threat of closure for some has felt very real. Over time, it feels as if we've moved from crisis response, to adaptation, into (tentative) recovery mode, and that brings with it a re-examination and re-positioning of so much of the work that's gone before. The scale of the task, for so many non-profits, is huge; but I think the fire of crisis has also forged a new sense of determination for many organisations. Change seems not just possible, but essential.”

Phoebe Walker is currently a freelance Development Consultant based in Manchester, working with organisations in the arts and social justice sectors. Some of her past and current clients include Music In Detention,  the British CouncilAction On DisabilityThe Maya Centre, and Nafsiyat Intercultural Therapy Centre. Following her Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Fellowship at the Bush Theatre, Phoebe worked in the Education Team at The Poetry Society, and later joined social justice charity Toynbee Hall as its Relationships Manager, before moving into freelance work. Phoebe is also a published poet and arts journalist. 

Follow Phoebe here on Twitter @PhoebeLPWalker


Trustee of the Month


Maddy Lewis is a Trustee at UpRising, a national youth leadership development organisation that provides routes to employment and leadership for 16-25 year olds who have talent but lack opportunity. 

“With youth unemployment soaring due to Covid-19, UpRising's work and programmes have never been more crucial. I was motivated to become a young Trustee of UpRising as I had had the privilege of being selected for and participating in their leadership programme in 2018; from this, I wanted to give back to the charity, whilst also utilising the skills that they had helped me to develop in this leadership role.”

Due to Covid-19, the Board has started to meet virtually, and more frequently, in order to keep a closer eye on finances and income opportunities. The UpRising staff have worked hard to move each youth development programme online. 

“My advice to those considering becoming a Trustee is to find a cause you are passionate about, and particularly to young Trustees: to listen and learn from your fellow board members.”

Follow UpRising on Twitter at @UpRising_UK


Social Entrepreneur of the Month


Peter Hulett is the Managing Director of Camden Garden Centre, having worked in the Garden Centre industry for over 30 years. The Camden Garden Centre was founded by members of the local community in 1983 who were concerned about youth unemployment in Camden. Since then, it has developed a training scheme that has delivered life-changing benefits to over 300 Trainees, including training, qualifications, and valuable work experience that support individuals into long-term employment. Camden Garden Centre sees this scheme as an investment for both the individual and the community, and is proud to have been one of the first Social Enterprises in the UK. 

Lockdown posed a significant threat to the survival of the Camden Garden Centre, which remained closed for almost two months in its busiest season. 

“I am completely amazed by the level of business we have done since reopening. […] In the event we did more than 10% more business in the two weeks in May we were open than we did in the whole of last May!”

Follow the Camden Garden Centre on Twitter at @CamdenGardenCen

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