Tree Planting in Newburn

Some of you may not be aware that Shared Interest has a dedicated Environment Team. Each year one of our key tasks is to find a way to offset the carbon we generate in the day to day running of the organisation, as well as through staff travel.

On Saturday 19th November, a mixed group of staff and Shared Interest Volunteers headed to Newburn Countryside Park to replant the eleven trees that represented our carbon use.

The day was a great success and we were all incredibly proud of our hard work. A plaque to identify the Shared Interest trees will go up in the next few weeks so if you are in the park over the festive period make sure you keep an eye out for our new trees, they are located near the sensory garden.

Thank you to everybody that was involved in the tree planting and planning of the day.

If you would like to learn more about volunteering for Shared Interest please click here

 

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Sunderland Fairtrade Festival

In October 2011 the Sunderland Partnership celebrated four years as a registered Fairtrade City. The event, which was hosted at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, was attended by 1,357 local fair trade enthusiasts.

The event was opened by Mags Vaughan, Business Director at Traidcraft. Following her introduction there were plenty of children’s fair trade activities and a fair trade marketplace.

Thank you to Jan, Pat and Judith who represented Shared Interest on the day. They said that they gained lots of genuine interest from the attendees on the day.

Sunderland Fairtrade Festival

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Charlotte’s Work Experience Blog

My name is Charlotte and I am currently a student at Newcastle University and a volunteer for Shared Interest. I started volunteering this summer and have really enjoyed attending events and working in the office with the staff. Rachel, the Volunteer Manager, was kind enough to organise a week’s work experience for me so I could gain a greater insight into the departments within the organisation that I have an interest in.

On my first morning I was given a tour around the office to meet everyone and learn a little bit about their role within the society. Everyone made me feel very welcome.

In the afternoon I was introduced to the environment team. I already know Rachel, so really I was just introduced to Steve! Although there is only the two of them they have been hard at work figuring out how to off-set Shared Interests carbon emissions for this year. They have decided on a tree planting project to replace the paper they have used in the office which according to Steve is 11 trees! Throughout the week I helped Rachel with organising this event

I finished the day off by talking to Margaret about working in HR which I am considering as a career after my degree. She is involved in recruiting new staff and maintaining the well-being of existing staff. I learned that part of her role is very similar to an agony aunt, as she deals with any worries in the office!

I spent my second day at SCAN. SCAN is Newcastle Universities’ volunteer centre for students and they will be helping me and Rachel organise the tree planting. We organised transport, refreshments, equipment and the venue. We delegated the remainder of the jobs between us which we will work on this month. I will be in charge of finding out which trees can be planted in October and where to source them from. I will have to work within a budget which will involve a bit of ringing around to find the best deal!

I have spent most of the third day with the marketing team, another area of work which greatly interests me. They allowed me to sit in on two meetings.  One was a team meeting and it was interesting to hear what everyone has been working on recently and how they are making progress with it. The other meeting was about the changes that Adam had made to the website – which looks great!

I spoke to Kerrey and Stacey during the day who are both involved in marketing. They showed me some packs that were getting sent out to members, and ones that could be sent to inquiring members. They looked great and will be very useful for current and future investors. They explained the process in which the packs are made; this involves working with designers and printers outside of Shared Interest and is much more time consuming than I thought!

I learned that marketing needs creative thinkers, and am now even more interested in pursuing it after my degree!

On Day four Rachel asked me to attend a volunteer conference on ‘volunteering in a big society’ with her. I found this very interesting from a volunteer’s point of view and found out some of the difficulties with recruiting and managing young volunteers. It was a real insight into Rachel’s line of work and I thoroughly enjoyed the day – despite the rather beige buffet!

On my final day I returned to SCAN. I helped Phil sign people up to volunteer and explained to people how volunteering can benefit them as well as others. Rachel came with me to promote Shared Interest and we were able to hand out some of her business cards to students that were interested in becoming a Shared Interest volunteer.

This week has been very useful in helping me decide which career path to take after university. I am still a little torn between HR and marketing but I am positive that I would love to work for an ethical or charity organisation similar to Shared Interest.

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Edinburgh volunteer recruitment event

By Rachel Norman

When we were invited to the annual volunteer recruitment event organised by Edinburgh Volunteer Centre we jumped at the chance. The event took place in St Paul’s and St George’s Church on York Place, a spectacular light and airy venue in an excellent location. I went along with Kelly one of our Newcastle based volunteers. It was an early start for both of us, but we had the sunshine on our side and temperatures in Edinburgh that day reached 25 degrees!

Over 1,100 potential volunteers came along to the event and there were 35 organisations there looking for people to help them out.  We had a prime spot and managed to speak to lots of people about Shared Interest and get a huge list of people interested in finding out more about volunteering; we also managed to sign up an investor in the process.

After a long day Kelly and I got back into Newcastle late at night, exhausted but happy with the amount of people we had spoken to and the amount of interest we had acquired. No doubt in part due to my recent undertaking of knitting, which attracted so many people to come and speak to us and ask what we were all about. Some stalls had freebies, but we got by with smiles and knitting!

If you live in Edinburgh and would like to know more about volunteering with Shared Interest feel free to contact me rachel.norman@shared-interest.com

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Volunteer Spotlight

By Rachel Norman

We would like to highlight the different types of activities that our many volunteers partake in and to look at volunteer’s motivations. For this blog it is the turn of Jolanda one of our relatively new volunteers who contributes in a very exciting way to our digital marketing.

Jolanda

My name is Jolanda van Hal, I live in Groningen, the Netherlands, and I study International Business, Management and Marketing. The first time I did some volunteering was not something you would normally expect from it; I was studying in Michigan, the United States, at the time, and together with some friends I sold tickets at a kayaking festival. We were at the festival to go white-water rafting and decided to do something useful with our spare time. I should confess that the main reason for helping out was a free T-shirt and a hot meal, but it turned out to be a lot of fun and the organisation was very happy with our help. As a result, when I got back to the Netherlands, I started doing other volunteering projects.

What I love most about volunteering is that there are so many different things you can do. Since you are not paid for it, you can volunteer because you like the activity itself or because you can learn something or gain skills from the experience, and, most importantly, it is a great way to support a cause. I am a student and do not have much money to donate to charity or certain organisations, however, what I can do is donate my time.

It is because I wanted to volunteer that I heard about Shared Interest. Earlier this year I studied in Newcastle for a semester and I signed up with a volunteering initiative at Newcastle University. Through that organisation I learned about Shared Interest and that the organisation was looking for Ambassadors to make the organisation known to the rest of the UK. The organisation really appealed to me, it not only tries but actually achieves to help people in the developing world.

I am back in the Netherlands right now, continuing my Master in Groningen, and I help out with the digital marketing for Shared Interest, focusing on social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Mainly I look for news and information on fair trade in the UK and the rest of the world, which can then be used for the social media sites. Even though I have only just started, I can say that I have already learned a lot about fair trade through this volunteering and I am very interested in learning more about it and helping Shared Interest at the same time.

Keep up to date with us on Facebook and Twitter to see what Jolanda has been doing to promote Shared Interest.

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Shared Interest Celebrates Volunteers’ Week

Volunteers Week
From June 1 to 7 as part of National Volunteers’ Week, we are visiting Bristol to meet up with ambassadors and members from the area.

Volunteers’ Week is an annual event which celebrates the fantastic contribution that millions of volunteers make across the UK. The week plays a big part in raising the profile of the millions of volunteers who contribute to society, whilst inspiring others to volunteer.

Our volunteer Ambassadors are crucial to the success of Shared Interest. They contribute many hours of their time to help. Rachel Norman, Volunteer Manager for Shared Interest said:
Volunteers’ Week is the perfect time to try volunteering. Volunteering with Shared Interest is fulfilling knowing that your work will help improve people’s lives across the globe.

Interested in volunteering?

Why not come along this Friday 3rd June 2011 to our meet up event in Broadmead Baptist Church, Bristol. This is your chance to meet staff, members and Ambassadors of Shared Interest and hear more about our work to date as well as network with like-minded people from across the South West. We will be showing two of our newest films from Kenya and Peru to illustrate how we support fair trade businesses around the world. To book please contact Rachel Norman (Volunteer Manager) rachel.norman@shared-interest.com.

Alternatively you can visit our website by clicking here to find out more about volunteering.

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Fairtrade inspires a Shared Interest in Belfast

Shared Interest’s Membership Development Co-ordinator Ashleigh Wilson and Supporter Relations Officer Ruth Taylor embarked upon a four-day tour to Northern Ireland from 25th-28th May. This involved a visit to Belfast; Ireland’s only Fairtrade city.

They culminated their tour of faith groups, volunteer bureaux and universities in the region with a visit to a Belfast store that stocks clothing made by some of the businesses it works with across the globe. Fairtrade Inspires sells Fairtrade clothing and handicrafts including T-shirts made by Epona Clothing using certified Fairtrade organic cotton from Agrocel; both of which have benefited from Shared Interest loans in the past.

Ashleigh explains: “With our growing team of ambassadors, we have a strong volunteer base right across the UK. However, in Northern Ireland we have only two volunteers and wanted to give people the opportunity to get involved and build on the city’s Fairtrade status.

Denis Stewart, who has been an investor for over 14 years and a volunteer alongside that for the last five, met up with Ashleigh and Ruth at Fairtrade Inspires to talk about encouraging more support from people living in the area.

He said: “I believe there are about 73 Shared Interest investors in Northern Ireland, and aside from me, there is just one more person volunteering their time. I would definitely find it useful to have a network of like-minded individuals to help out at events or even just to share ideas with.

Fairtrade Inspires store manager Rebecca Bromley said: “Shared Interest holds a crucial role in the fair trade movement and, without their investors and volunteers; perhaps we wouldn’t be able to sell such an array of Fairtrade products on a daily basis.

We were delighted that Shared Interest brought their Belfast tour to a close in our store and also to hear that they have recruited new volunteers during their stay.

Fairtrade Inspires supports handicraft makers in the developing world by providing an outlet to sell their products and it is fascinating to meet with people involved at another part of this vital supply chain.

Both Ashleigh and Ruth intend to travel back to Northern Ireland this year. Ashleigh explains: “Whilst the group of members and ambassadors who congregated together was small, their enthusiasm and determination to work together on a regular basis to promote Shared Interest throughout Northern Ireland was inspiring.

I very much look forward to hearing about their progress and shall be working closely with the group to support them with their efforts and increase the number of people they can share their ideas with.

If you would like to volunteer in your area, then please click here for further details.

Fairtrade inspires

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Update from the South by Sally Reith

I am increasingly stretching the boundaries of my role as SRO for the ‘South East’ with trips this month taking me to Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol as well as my well known destination of London.

I started my month with the CABE annual lecture where I met a number of key contacts who will hopefully be able to help us reach new audiences in Cass Business School in London, the General Synod and CABE itself.  During National Ethical Investment Week I met many people in many places.  I popped along to the NEIW reception event in the House of Commons where a highlight was being able to buy a fair trade Christmas Bauble in the shop there to add to the Newcastle Christmas Decorations.  I also attended the City of London Fairtrade Steering Group meeting where discussions were around Fairtrade Fortnight plans and the theme of tea certainly seems to be generating lots of ‘tea dance’ ideas for events.  Have you thought about any activities you may be able to get involved with locally where there may be opportunities to promote Shared Interest?

I also attended the ClearlySo social business conference where I was given the opportunity to give a 45 second pitch.  Good practice of my ‘Elevator Pitch’ which those of you who have attended our Ambassador training sessions will know well!  I will be travelling to Bristol this weekend to run the final Meet Up session, these appear to have proved popular with Ambassadors, members and guests alike.

My trip to Manchester was to support Ashleigh at the Shared Planet event which is People and Planet’s annual event which brings together young people with an interest and passion for changing the world.  We had a lot of interest from both prospective Ambassadors but also prospective Members.  More recently I visited one of my local Lower Schools, a fair trade school, and ran an assembly there which concluded with the fair trade council presenting me with their application form and cheque to open their Shared Interest account.

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Ambassador Profile – Friday Nkumeh

1. How did you first hear about Shared Interest?

I heard about Shared Interest during the fresher’s fair at Northumbria University in 2008.

2. When did you join as an ambassador?

I joined after learning more about fair trade at a conference in London last year.  Having been made aware at the fresher’s fair that Shared Interest promotes and enables fair trade, I decided to become an ambassador.

3. What motivated you to become an ambassador?

I believe in learning new things every day and in practical change.   Having been the International Students Representative at Northumbria University, I share the strong opinion that joining global campaigns against poverty is the only way to help the world’s poorest countries.  Shared Interest stands for a practical solution to this by being the world’s only 100% Fair Trade Lender.  It was this practical solution which motivated me to become an ambassador, so that I could instil in others my passion and belief about the work which Shared Interest does.

4. What does it mean to you to be an ambassador?

I am happy to see that I am working with an organisation that helps poor countries all over the world.  I am really proud to be part of Shared Interest.

5. What do you enjoy most about being an ambassador?

The fact that as an ambassador I get all the necessary training that enables me to travel all over the UK,  meeting new people to promote our work and increase our membership in doing so.

6. What ambassador activities have you undertaken in the last three months?

I ran stalls at the International Community Day in Newcastle and at People and Planet’s UK Students Justice Conference at Manchester University   I also raised money for the Shared Interest Foundation at the Holy Trinity Church Fair in Newcastle by promoting the Foundation and selling Shared Interest merchandise.  In general, I also frequently request postcards from Head Office which I distribute at University and to shops in my local area.  Furthermore, I am currently in discussions with University groups about doing a Shared Interest presentation to staff and students.

7. Which activities have you found to be most successful overall?

I believe that all of the above activities have been successful, although I particularly enjoy making new contacts and speaking with people who have never heard about Shared Interest before.  This gives me a great deal of satisfaction and pride.

8. What do you find most difficult or frustrating about the ambassador scheme?

Generally I have not had any difficulty at the moment because I have received all of the necessary training and all of my questions about the scheme and Shared Interest have been answered in the new USB resource pack.

9. Do you have any suggestions on how the scheme could be improved?

All the ambassadors need more closeness and at least a meeting once in a month to share the progress of what have been done and to share ideas about how to move forward with our work.

10. Finally do you have any words of wisdom for other ambassadors?

Be active and try to have a target.

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Ambassador Action

This month those of you who were unable to attend the ambassador training sessions will receive the new USB ambassador resource pack, which has been designed following existing ambassador feedback and contains information relevant to the new strategic direction of the scheme.  One of the things which we have created for you is an introductory letter about Shared Interest which can be sent to businesses in your local area.  I would like all of you to contact 5 businesses in your local area and send this letter to them, along with a QR and Account Brochure.  Should you require this literature then please email me or send a letter to the usual address.  Please also remember to feedback to me which businesses you have contacted, so we can track ambassador activity within regional networks and inform you of any enquirers or new members whom you have recruited.

For those of you who have not received the USB stick you can access the file by clicking here.

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