Welcome to my blog! This week I’m talking about personal heroes, unusual meeting places and the art of public speaking.
Started the week with a 7am rendezvous at a famous freshwater pond in London. Yes, believe it or not, I’d arranged to meet one of our investors at Hampstead Ponds for an invigorating outdoor swim and breakfast meeting. However, the early start threw me a little…and I’m sorry to say I arrived too late to join him for the swim! Instead, we caught up over breakfast in the cosy café.
Then I headed straight to the office to work on packaging designs for one of our new branded products. I want the first Unforgettable products to look so professional that they would sit happily on a shelf in John Lewis. Products in this market have, historically, suffered from low levels of investment and ambition… but we’re determined to change all that. I also spent time looking at final pages of our first catalogue, which comes out at the end of the month. It’s a substantial 56 pages and it’s looking really good. I finished the day by preparing a speech for tomorrow and ended up working late.
I had a really great meeting with Richard Adams, the founder of Fairtrade and Traidcraft, and Phil Wells, former director of the Fairtrade Foundation. Richard is a personal hero of mine – he invented ethical shopping – so it was fantastic to chat to him about Unforgettable, and to hear his own insights and experience.
One area I was keen to learn more about was how Fairtrade managed to raise awareness (and sales) of its products in the community by building links with churches. It was interesting to explore the idea of direct, community sales with Richard and Phil, and to discuss how a similar model might also work for Unforgettable. I’m very grateful to both of them for their time.
Another early start. This time, it was for an interview with Laura Whateley, a journalist for The Times. It was a wonderful, really positive interview and I came away feeling inspired. I then got on a train to Swindon for my next appointment as guest speaker (the first time I’ve ever been called that!) at a carer’s meeting for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust.
Around 150 carers came along and, as ever, it was an amazing experience – probably the most enjoyable I’ve had so far. It was also heartening to hear that many carers already knew about Unforgettable and were keen to give ideas and feedback.
Afterwards I went back to the office to work on another speech for later in the week.
I started the day doing more work on our branded product packaging. I also gave the team some feedback on our new website design which is starting to go live in the next couple of weeks. I was then interviewed by Laura Shannon, Personal Finance journalist for The Mail on Sunday about Unforgettable’s new Lasting Power of Attorney service which is attracting a lot of media interest.
Later, I spoke to Laura Denning Kemp at Nuffield Heath. Nuffield is taking a very innovative approach to making their hospitals dementia-friendly. It’s really exciting to be working with them. I also spoke to Zoe McWhirter from Housing & Care 21, the UK’s largest non-profit care and housing provider which is also keen to improve dementia facilities in its Extra Care housing. It’s great to hear from organisations like these two, which are taking such a proactive stance.
At 6pm I went off to an event at WeWork South Bank which was run by a fantastic organisation called beyondme.org which connects charities with young professionals who are willing to give their skills, time and money to help charities grow and prosper. I was invited to give a talk about Unforgettable and what we do as a way to inspire other social entrepreneurs. It was another really enjoyable event.
Giving talks and making speeches is a significant part of my role as founder of Unforgettable. This week I’ve been out and about quite a lot. Talking to people regularly really helps to inspire me and reinforce my belief that what we’re doing is right. Of course, it would be easier NOT to do it, and to just sit in front of a computer getting on with work, but when I meet carers and professionals working in this area I’m always so grateful for their interest and enthusiasm about what we’re doing, they teach me so much. So a big thank you to everyone I’ve met this week.