Chamber Member, Andy Neale, who founded Preston-based Podio Magazine under his umbrella Social Enterprise, Global Amigos, is off to volunteer in India this summer. He’s heading out with a grassroots UK-based charity which he aspires to replicate through Global Amigos. “Ultimately,” he tells Business Lancashire, “We believe in using business as a tool for good; we use our commercial activities to help achieve our objectives – the ultimate one being to encourage & enable local people to break beyond the Lancashire border and see the developing world”.
He says that due to the infancy of his volunteer-led project (www.globalamigos.org.uk) there’s nothing set in stone with respect to the longer term ambitions but that, on a worse-case scenario, he plans to use the enterprise as a signposting platform to ensure Lancashire’s would-be volunteers don’t get conned or ripped off by commercial operators. “My placement in India, the fact that people will (hopefully) read this, shows that we’re already part way there. There are loads of incredible opportunities out there, where the impact is measured and worthwhile and, if next year, only one local person embarks on a similar opportunity then that’d be worthwhile in my eyes…”
The best case scenario, in his eyes, is that Global Amigos will send out their own volunteers – funding or part funding the experiences through company profits. “…We’re jumping 4 or 5 years ahead here though!” he laughs.
Andy’s personal experiences of development work abroad include working with Azerbaijani refugees in Armenia with the Red Cross, working on HIV awareness in South Africa with Voluntary Services Overseas and, more recently, environmental work in Latin America with International Citizen Service. He proudly shows a ring that he found during his time at a Zimbabwean refugee camp nearly ten years ago; when placing it on his wedding finger he made a promise to return to the UK and wave a flag for those unable to. “I’ve always gone to support reputable charities; there’s nothing worse than companies who charge to volunteer, without caring about the wellbeing of those involved”.
“What I love about Chennai Challenge, the small charity I’m going with this time, is the fact that they formed on the back of similar placements to what I’ve had. Rob, the Project Leader, is a Chemistry teacher in term time who took a Gap Year some years ago. Since then, he’s worked hard to maintain the relationship with the orphanage and school and so, returns each year with a team of volunteers with donated items & funds. My role will be to mentor the volunteers and to give the social media and marketing of the charity a boost. Practically, we as a group will be carrying out maintenance work on the buildings and engaging the slum kids in educational activities”.
Chennai Challenge is 100% volunteer-led and relies on donations. Andy is consequently fundraising through various means, he’s ‘pimping out his services’ for anyone who requires them (so far, he’s done cleaning, gardening, flyering, CV work and is soon to offer a 1-1 LinkedIn session for a small business owner as well as a stint of painting & decorating) He’s also planning an Indian inspired event, a Preston-wide raffle and has registered a text donation service.
Some of the supporters so far include Cotton Court Business Centre in Preston who are displaying his Golden Spaceship in their reception for loose change; Maria Greco, founder of Darwen-based wefifo.com who got in touch via #PrestonHour on Twitter, is kindly hosting & cooking a range of classic tapas dishes for his family & friends in exchange for donations; and JL Consultancy was the first to ‘pimp out his services’ by donating £40 in exchange for 200 life coaching flyers to be inserted in to copies of the Spring edition of Podio.
To trade a service / his time for a donation email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For info on WeFiFo /the specific meal visit: https://www.wefifo.com/event/756112430198118
To donate directly via his Just Giving page head to: www.justgiving.com/andy-neale-india
For more on his Big Preston Raffle, set to benefit not only Chennai Challenge but also Disability Equality North West & Preston Pride, see: www.globalamigos.org.uk/big-preston-raffle