CLIC Sargent Takeover Day

So my day (on Friday) began at 5AM, with a ridiculously early start (earlier than I even needed it to be) but I woke up like a kid waiting for Christmas. However this mid November morning and there are no presents to open just a early train to catch so I got ready for my day and spoke to my half asleep flatmate as I left my house at 6am. Where am I you ask? I’m spending the day at CLIC Sargent HQ in London. Why? Well to take it over obviously!

The idea for today came up quite a while ago in a Participation Group meeting (I’d like to say it was probably my idea but I can’t even remember) Kate Lee (our usual CEO) Had previously taken part in takeover days at a previous charity and was also keen to see it happen at CLIC Sargent. We looked at ways in which it could be achieved and when would be best today (Friday) seemed perfect as there is a national #takeoverdaychallenge with the children’s commissioner and so plans were swiftly underway and today became a reality. So how did we hear about it?? Well it was decided that it would be offered to members of the YPRG (CLIC Sargent’s young people’s reference group, made up from people they have supported to inspire and influence the work and direction of CLIC Sargent) as it’s a big step to take both for us and the charity so this seemed like a good group to test it. So a post was put up on the Facebook group and emailed out to us all too offering us the opportunity to take part. In this post we were asked to express an interest for a role which were also listed. These roles were then allocated based on our expression of interest and so here we are taking over.

On our journey to London our Facebook group was alive- with so many exciting comments from hey guys anyone seen my company car (CLIC Sargent is a charity no-one has company cars). To hey as CEO could someone go get me a coffee. It was fantastic especially to see emails from our social workers getting involved too asking for pay rises. Definitely the best way to start any day!

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We began by having a briefing about what to expect from the day and got placed into our roles (at the end of the day we will do a sort of hand over back). We then had a tour of the offices as some of the group hadn’t been before and so we could get to grips with the teams and which director was responsible for them.

My role for the day has been as the Communications Assistant I have been able to learn about the role, which includes pulling together the daily news stories and sending them out across the whole of the charity. Dealing with requests for real life stories and quotes for news stories. Helping the teams to share their messages digitally and so much more! I don’t think I’d put much thought into what a difference one role makes to a charity I think I’ve always viewed it very much as a whole (despite interning with the charity last year where I developed a good understanding of how the charity works). My tasks for the day have been to conduct interviews with the CEO Fay Turner-Paxton and advisor to the CEO Kate Lee as well as the Director of Services Pete Jerrett and the advisor of Services Dara De Burca. Write a blog post about the day and a bit for the website, and to try to make contact with some local press to send out some content about today. Hopefully I’ll find the time to fit it all in but this is just such a small nugget on what happens within the charity on a day to day basis. The time really does fly!

Once I got to grips with the role it was time to spring into action and come up with some snappy questions to ask the CEO and Director of Services. I decided to be a nice journalist not asking too many difficult questions but it went really well. I learnt a lot about what it means to be a part of the day for them all and how already having young people involved has made a difference. I asked Fay and Kate how they have found today- Fay commented that she was quite nervous about how today would go but “it’s been a bit nuts and Kate has been amazing”. Kate Lee commented about how amazingly Fay has handled all of the people coming and saying ‘can I just have 5 minuets- and I’ve spent most of the day tweeting and being on my Facebook!”. Fay says she has learnt about how busy the charity is, a lot about how the charity works and has had some really good tips about chairing meeting and how to manage people.

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Pete chose to become Director of services because he understood what the role was and has had a lot of help and support from the services team over the past 3 1/2 years of treatment. Dara said that “Pete has already been able to point out areas within the policy reports that hasn’t been seen previously and how they could have been presented better and he has asked some really good questions which is so exiting. Pete commented that “My hope for the future is that today goes so amazingly well that everyone thinks yes- lets do a takeover week lets involve the children too and that will agree that we want more participation opportunities like this.”

I had the unique pleasure of sitting in on the executive team meeting for the first item agenda purely as an on looker and to be able to write about it- and I have to say how immensely proud I am of all of my friends. It was incredible to see them place themselves into their director roles and so eloquently  getting their points across. However, looking round the table I saw the exact same look of pride on every single member of advisory staff in the room. Rachel raising the first item’s agenda so clearly everyone got on board straight away and the moment Brad (communications manager) spoke about an introduction of a new social media platform I saw smiles across the faces of so many. I’m bursting with pride of my friend Fay who herself would admit to usually being the quite one managing the meeting, keeping it to time whiles showing she was listening to everyone’s comments by summarising before moving onto the next item. It was like she had been doing it for years! Libby (Director of income and engagement) asking questions on how it would relate to fundraising. Aimee (Director of HR) answering Pete’s question about training for staff and raising issues of bridging the generational gaps. Honestly you wouldn’t have believed they had just had one hour of prep before this meeting because it was as if it was their normal jobs.

I’ve really loved being part of this incredible day and I can not wait to be part of the developing group for the next one to be a success for other children and young people to #takeover. Just would like to say a special thanks to all of the staff and young people that took part today

CEO- Fay Turner-Paxton (Kate Lee)

Director of services- Pete Jerrret (Dara De Burca)

Director of Finance and coparate resources- Connor Grant [WFH] (Kevin O’Brien)

Director Income and Engagement- Libby Welch (Rachel Kirby-Rider)

Director of People and Learning- Aimee Jordan (Jane Cooling)

Assistant Director of Planning strategy and performance- Rachel Blackford (Jenny Turner)

Impact and Performance Analyst- Tish Annand-Beanse (Michelle)

Project manager and EA to CEO and Chair- Seren Hughes (Diane Swanton)

Communication Manager- Bradley Gudger (Sally Archer)

Communications Assitant- Me- Ceinwen Stone (Rebecca Bourley)

And to our amazing participation team Rebecca Horder and Tracey Cosgrave.

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Young Lives vs Cancer CLIC Sargent’s new brand.

So this blog post is about the amazing charity CLIC Sargent, why I love them and my involvement in the exciting NEW BRAND! Yep heard it here first (unless you saw it through the CLIC Sargent post- but hey give me some credit please)!

So since my diagnosis 6 and a half years ago a lot has changed my old life is no more and you know what its ok, but me being ok with that is thats in a large part thanks to the wonderful CLIC Sargent. A few months back I was sat in my consultants office explaining what I’d done over the 6 months since he last saw me. I explained that I’d got even more involved with the charity and in his words “ohhh your ‘giving back'”. At first it shocked me a bit because thats not the case at all (ok maybe it was to start with) but its way way more than that. Let me get this out of the way now- I now live a life full of complications that may get better one day but for now these wonderful complications hold me back from a normal 26 year olds life. I have chronic fatigue (which comes in many forms but generally i wake up as tired as you go to bed) a fun immunodeficiency thanks to chemo (my immune system doesn’t work properly) I have non-epileptic fits (triggered by fatigue and stress) and other things that effect me occasionally too. However this isn’t a sob story- ohhh feel sorry for me, because I have a tone going for me too and that wouldn’t have been possible without CLIC Sargent’s participation service.

The day I got my diagnosis I honestly believed I’d have been fixed by the end of the week, so to sit here writing this it makes me think about how far I’ve come. My CLIC Sargent social worker Jude was (and still is) a huge part of my life, without her I would never have returned to university, I wouldn’t have got the mental health support I needed, I wouldn’t have known where to start when it came to my finances and I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today without her. I’ve now graduated uni (yes it may have taken 6 years but I did it) I took on a internship to see how I’d manage in the working world (answer- not quite ready yet). I’ve set up a life for myself and I’ve been a big part of some big decisions for CLIC Sargent thanks to Participation. So your probably wondering what participation is- basically its children and young people being able to inspire and influence the charities decision making. How awesome is that?!

I’ve done a lot with CLIC Sargent, from interviewing staff (all levels) to heading to parliament to tell those MPs what they need to look at. I’ve been involved with some tough decisions like the closure of MSH but also some massively important ones like young people’s assessments, the change in the participation service and most recently the NEW BRAND! But its more than just ‘giving back’ and why- well because over the years I’ve been able to develop skills that I’d never have done as a benefits bum (no offence intended I promise) I now tell people now that I’m a government sponsored volunteer (thanks to not being well enough to work full time). I know how to sit and be heard in a big board meeting, I know what makes a great answer to the question why this job, why now? I know how long and how hard applying for funding is. I know and understand how a charity works- so there for I understand how a business works. I am able to passionately tell an MP why they are wrong and what they need to do to fix something (and they listen). I am able to influence and see change happening and keep influencing work along the way. I am able to creatively come up with ideas, work through them and see the outcome of my idea. I’ve had more experience and opportunities than most of my school friends and my CV looks immense because of it. So never tell me its ‘giving back’ and they only want to hear your story- and you shouldn’t make your life about cancer (it isn’t) because CLIC Sargent care so much more than that and I’m not the only voice they listen to- they listen so they can improve the charity and its services for all in the future.

Here’s a picture of the YPRG from our last meeting where we were all getting behind our newly appointed young person trustee Jason Loo.

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Most recently I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with the REBRAND! A few years ago we pointed out CLIC Sargent- supporting children with cancer. Did not represent all of the people they represented I was diagnosed aged 20- I was not a child. So they added the supporting Young People bubble to their logo which wasn’t used for most things. The flower on the logo often wasn’t liked by many of the boys and some girls too, but without the money we were told a rebrand was out of the question. 1 year ago we got a wonderful new CEO Kate Lee, boy is that woman a machine! She has done SO SO SO much and she is super involved with the YPRG (Young people’s reference group- part of participation). 6 months ago she came to see us (as well as the children’s group) with a brand workshop- to get the feel of what we thought of CLIC Sargent and where we wanted it to be. I assumed this was the beginning of years and years worth of work never did I think that in just 6 months we would be launching a new brand! The YPRG meets every 6-8weeks and guaranteed at each of the meeting we’d have Kate or a member of the redesign team pop in to ask us our thoughts and give us an update.

Heres what the logo use to look like…

A few months ago we were given first looks at the brand proposal and we were able to give our feedback about the language, look and feel to the new brand. I love it!!!

Now like anything new your never going to get 100% of people on board right away- Change is hard, really hard! However, this new brand has been needed so much with the charity (like all charities) having a tough time financially, struggling to be heard in a sea of non profit organisations out there, CLIC Sargent was not being bold enough. CLIC Sargent was seen as a mumsy ohh we support charity- but its NOT- CLIC Sargent is a charity that is Strong, it fights for every single one of us/its service users, they are a charity that become our advocates- give us a voice, shout and demand change when its needed, they are there on your darkest day and they are there on your best. They are there to make sure when its needed palliative care is in our control. They are there to help us not just survive but THRIVE. CLIC Sargent’s new brand was not only influenced by us it is now bolder, puncher and most importantly more CLIC Sargent.

CLIC Sargent and its amazing CEO Kate Lee have managed to get the new brand to this point on just £5,000 by begging, being cleaver and asking a lot of favours- The reason for this because supporters money is better spent on the services it provides. I love the new brand and I’m so proud I’ve been able to be part of the group thats got it to where it is today. I hope you love it as much as I do (and if not with time I know you will!). Here’s one final picture of the YPRG.

Hands in #TeamYoungLives on 3….

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 Support young lives against cancer. Text YOUNG LIVES to 70500 to donate £3 to @CLIC_Sargent #YoungLivesvsCancer or check out the website at http://clicsargent.org.uk/