Alex Swallow

An Interview With Alex Swallow

Alex Swallow is Programme Director of the Charity Leaders’ Exchange, Founder of Young Charity Trustees and Assistant Editor of Good News Shared. He’s also my husband- regular readers of Good News Shared might have noticed that we got married earlier this year- we actually met while working for a charity ourselves. He’s just launched his first website, today, so I decided to interview him.

1- Could you tell us a bit about how you ended up working for the charity sector?

Like many people who end up in the charity sector, my involvement was a bit of an accident. I studied politics at Uni, then helped run a voluntary Programme in Romania; worked in Japan for two years; came back and got a Masters; worked as a political intern and a private tutor before I finally saw a job working for a small charity that caught my eye. That was about five years ago and I’ve been in and around the sector ever since: there’s a lot of it to explore!

2- Why have you decided to launch a website?

I’ve launched for three main reasons. First, I wanted to have my own online space, distinct from social media platforms, where I can explain what I do and what I’m about. Second, I wanted to have a platform to help share the causes that I care about (including Good News Shared) with others. Finally, I wanted to have the flexibility in the future to work from anywhere and to continue to get involved with a range of exciting things as I do now, so starting a website seemed like a good step.

3- What causes are you hoping to support through the website?

As well as Good News Shared, I am hoping to promote Young Charity Trustees- which promotes Board Diversity for charities, Charityworks- which introduces bright graduates into the charity sector, Charity Careers- which tries to help people who want a career in the charity sector, (or people already in the sector who want to further their ambitions) and many other things I am involved with besides. One of my greatest pleasures is telling people about good organisations that they haven’t heard about and connecting people up who will be able to help each other.

4- How can people get involved?

If people go to they can sign up for emails to get my latest blog posts and other information. Or of course they can contact me about the individual causes I support, so if for example they are a young person and interested in Trusteeship they can talk to me.

I’ll also be promoting some volunteering opportunities on the site, both for work with me and with a range of other individuals and organisations.

Thanks for the opportunity to tell people about the website (hope they like it!) and a little bit about who I am and what I’m up to.


Global Entrepreneurship Week

Yesterday I attended the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) launch event in London, hoping to pick up some tips and inspiration for Good News Shared.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest campaign to promote entrepreneurship. Initially started in the UK, the campaign now takes place simultaneously in 150 countries. 2370 events will be taking place for Global Entrepreneurship Week this year in the UK alone.

The launch event in London, hosted by Reuben Christian, began with a talk by Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Global Entrepreneurship Week event

I have written about the take-home messages I left with over on the Good News Shared blog – please check it out:

Have you attended a Global Entrepreneurship Week event? Please share any tips and lessons you learn with me in the comments section below!

Why we can’t afford to ignore social media

Couldn’t agree more!

Rotary Voices

Interactors during a photo break at the Rotary Convention in Sydney, Australia. Interactors during a photo break at the Rotary Convention in Sydney, Australia.

By Marilyn Axler, a member of the E-Club of South Jersey, and Rotary Global History Fellowship board member

I have been using social media to promote Rotary for three years now, posting on Linked In and other platforms to connect with others and share Rotary’s message. From time to time, I hear from members who are uncomfortable with social media. They say they feel it is invasive and they bring up concerns for privacy and safety.

Could it be that they are also afraid to embrace change? I agree the telephone is still the best way to communicate sometimes. But social media is clearly where it is at for younger people. Can we really afford to ignore the “new age of communications?”

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Sharing A Volunteering Journey Via A Blog

Salma Begum, one of the writers for Good News Shared and a first year student at UCL is spending 10 weeks working in a school in Kisii, Kenya. I have never volunteered abroad, so I am really excited that I will be able to follow Salma’s experiences via her blog.

I have really enjoyed reading about the preparations and fundraising Salma did before the trip, and know that her updates from Kenya now she is there will be really interesting. I am particularly excited that Salma will be video blogging from Kenya, as it will be incredible to see the school and the area she is working in.

My parents were born and raised in Kenya, so I really enjoy learning more about the country, and I am looking forward to doing so via Salma’s blog.

Have you volunteered abroad? Please share your experiences by leaving a comment below!

Join The Aspire Foundation As A Mentor

Are you a women with a corporate or small business background? Would you like the opportunity to give something back by mentoring an aspiring woman from the non-profit sector?

The Aspire Foundation are looking for mentors!

Last year I was mentored by a woman called Sarah via the Aspire Foundation. I had never had an official mentor before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The Aspire Foundation were fantastic in matching Sarah and I together, and they provided free online seminars to help us both get the most out of the experience.

I gained a lot from the mentoring programme, and would recommend the Aspire Foundation to anyone. The programme is only open to women as the Aspire Foundation believe ‘if more women gain business, social and economic freedom, the world will become a more equal, ethical and balanced place’.

Some of the mentors and mentees in the programme share their experiences and thoughts in the video below:

To become an Aspire Foundation mentor you will need to complete a short form on their website:

The Cancer Research UK ‘Enemy’ Advert

I recently saw Cancer Research UK’s ‘Enemy’ advert for the first time. They launched the campaign back in December 2012 but somehow it’s passed me by until now.

The advert conveys a powerful, thought-provoking message. It positions research as the enemy of cancer and aims to show people that beating cancer is an achievable goal.

“Research has beaten polio. Research has beaten smallpox. Research is beating HIV. One day, research will beat cancer. The more research we do, the sooner that day will come”. 

I struggle to watch the entire advert, as the first line makes me really angry! “Research has beaten polio”. It sounds so final, like the problem has been solved. It makes the viewer think that polio is no longer a problem in society. This is not the case.

The advert is not factually incorrect. Research has given us a way to end polio. However the disease still exists. Polio remains endemic in three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Until polio is eradicated completely all countries remain at risk.

I joined Rotaract last year after hearing about the work Rotary and Rotaract do to help the End Polio Now campaign.  Since joining Rotaract I have learnt more about polio, and I can’t wait until we have finally eradicated the disease.

Polio mainly affects children under five years old. The virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water, and multiplies in the intestine. It can then invade the nervous system, causing paralysis in one in every 200 infections. It is capable of causing death within hours.

While I hope the Cancer Research UK advert has helped them increase the level of support they receive, I also hope people watching it do not think polio is no longer a problem in the world.

What do you think of the ‘Enemy’ advert? 


A Good Reason To Cancel Your Gym Membership

Last night I attended a networking event organised by S.E Alley for social entrepreneurs. S.E Alley organise an open, supportive monthly event to help social entrepreneurs meet each other.
The event was held at Impact Hub Kings Cross, in partnership with MakeSense, ClearlySo and GoodGym. We heard a little about each of these organisations, and were then shown a film the Guardian have produced about GoodGym. Watching the film made me feel quite emotional, and reminded me of all the older people I met when I was working for NBFA Assisting the Elderly.
Click here to watch the film.
After we saw the film Ivo Gormley, Founder of GoodGym, encouraged everyone who has a gym membership to cancel it and join GoodGym instead.
The rest of the evening was filled with informal networking. I met so many interesting people, including Deesha Chandra, Paul Minett, and Maria Trindade.
SE Alley Event
I found the group really friendly and welcoming, so if you are a social entrepreneur in or around London I really recommend checking S.E Alley out. Info on their events are posted on Facebook and Twitter. I am already looking forward to the next event – hope to see you there!