Emma, tell us about your career to date
I’ve always believed in using communications to create positive change. After starting my career as a regional PR ambassador for Sainsbury’s, and leading my store’s community engagement, I realised that I wanted to work in the charity sector.
Since then I worked at Media Trust, the leading communications charity, helping young people and charities utilise the power of the media. Working on national media partnerships with the likes of The Sun, The Times and ITV News, we provided young people with mentoring and a platform to have a voice and be heard.
I’ve always believed in using communications to create positive change.
After a couple of years I moved to the conservation organisation, WWF, to work in their press team, overseeing all species related media and advocating against the illegal wildlife trade. I then took a sidestep to focus on PR and personalities and lead the communications for their mass-public global awareness events like Earth Hour, which reached almost 90% of the UK through press coverage alone and inspired millions around the world to take action to protect our planet from the effects of climate change.
Following the EU Referendum, I decided I wanted to go back to supporting young people, who were about to inherit a future they hadn’t necessarily chosen. I was offered a great new role at the charity UK Youth, who support over 1.5 million young people across the UK through a network of youth clubs, and was promoted to head of communications and marketing shortly after starting. During my time there, I supported the organisation’s rebrand, led a website relaunch and helped engage new corporate partners, while securing additional resources to develop the communications team from one to five people.
What made you decide to apply for the head of marketing and communications role at The Trussell Trust?
14.2 million people in the UK live below the poverty line. No one should need to turn to a foodbank but until we tackle the structural issues that lead to poverty and hunger, foodbanks will continue to see a rise in demands of emergency food supplies.
With the roll-out of Universal Credit affecting thousands of households, now is the time to act on the welfare system that we designed to protect one another. Just like The Trussell Trust, I am committed to challenging injustices like this and creating change that could prevent people from crises in the future. I believe that The Trussell Trust’s work, utilising unique data compiled from our network of over 420 foodbanks, will be crucial to anchoring any of us from being swept into poverty, and I am proud to be part of the team helping to end hunger in the UK.
What does your typical day involve?
One of the best things about working in charity communications is the variety of activations you get to work on. From lobbying government to inspiring the nation to take action, our team has oversight on how all our audiences engage with our work and is able to think creatively about how to utilise our channels to create lasting change.
One of the best things about working in charity communications is the variety of activations you get to work on.
Our days are a mix between speaking to people on the ground (foodbank volunteers or people who are in crisis) and advocating at a national level, using anything from a tweet to a nationwide campaign to work towards a place where no one needs to use a foodbank. This array of activities make my days extremely varied, exciting and impactful.
What is the best bit about your day?
Compassion, collaborative and empowering are some of the values at the heart of everything we do – and these values are embodied in everyone who works at The Trussell Trust. The people I get to work with make every day special – from our passionate internal teams to our 40,000 dedicated volunteers across the UK, we are all united by one goal - to end hunger in the UK - which is truly inspiring and uplifting.
And what kind of challenges are you up against?
To end the need for foodbanks, we need to tackle the structural issues that cause poverty. It’s hard to break free from hunger if there isn’t enough money coming in to cover the rising cost of essentials. Sadly we’re seeing soaring levels of need at foodbanks. We recently released the latest statistics from our network of foodbanks, which found that over 650,000 emergency food supplies were given out in the last six months. This was up 13% on the same period last year.
The single biggest reason for a referral to a foodbank is benefit payments not covering the basics like food and housing. As a society we believe in compassion and helping other. We created systems like the NHS, fire service and the benefits system to protect us in an emergency. We need to ensure our benefits system works for all so everyone has enough money coming in to cover the costs of essentials, and that starts with reducing the five-week wait on Universal Credit.
You spend part of your time in Salisbury, what’s that like?
Yes, my role is split between London and Salisbury. Salisbury is a beautiful city and it’s lovely to have a break from the capital. A lot of the team in Salisbury have worked for the organisation for many years and their passion and dedication to ending UK hunger is truly inspiring.
Can you tell me more about your team's culture?
Confident, compassionate, challenging, collaborative and hopeful. We seek justice and are responsive, kind, action takers. We’re optimistic, encouraging and empowering; always believing positive change is possible.
What roles are you recruiting for in your team and what do they involve?
We are recruiting for a creative project manager to join our growing team. This exciting new role is responsible for leading and managing high-quality, engaging marketing and communications resources across all channels to maximise engagement with supporters and stakeholders to help us end UK hunger. The role provides creative account management to internal teams, working with colleagues from across our network and our in-house design team to deliver excellent, impactful content.
What do you think makes a great charity communications professional?
Passion is key for anyone working in charity communications. If you believe in what you’re communicating, your outputs will be a lot more effective. Understanding audiences, juggling multiple priorities and managing internal stakeholders are all key but it’s often some of the boldest, bravest campaigns that create the most impact so I will always support and challenge my team to try something new and take a risk.
What makes a wonderful workplace in your eyes?
Charity workplaces should embody the organisation’s values. Our biggest brand advocates should be our colleagues so it’s important to create an environment that inspires us to work towards our vision. I’ve been lucky enough to work in some great offices like WWF’s Living Planet Centre, where the ethos starts from within and truly empowers you to take action to protect our planet. Similarly, at The Trussell Trust, we’ve just renovated one of the rooms in our Salisbury office to create a relaxed communal space that is the perfect place to catch up with one another and provides an additional workspace offering an inspiring, bright alternative to your desk.
Any top tips for job applicants interested in joining your team?
Ensure your passion shines through, do your research and don’t be nervous – we’re a lovely bunch really! As a newly-formed team, now is the perfect time to join us so if you want to be part of an inspiring organisation creating lasting change for thousands across the UK then we want to hear from you.