Be a catalyst for change in the lives of older people
Published: 09 Feb 2017 By Jennifer Jackson
Laura Alcock-Ferguson, director of Campaign to End Loneliness, tells us about the organisation’s exciting growth plans and career opportunities
In a mission to make loneliness everyone’s business, the Campaign to End Loneliness is expanding its ambitions and team across the UK. It is currently recruiting for eight new roles across its campaigning and policy & research team, as well as its development & communications team.
Laura Alcock-Ferguson, director of Campaign to End Loneliness
Tell us about the Campaign to End Loneliness
The Campaign to End Loneliness is a catalyst for inspiring change in the lives of lonely older people. Research, education and powerful communications are key to reducing the damaging effects of loneliness in older age and our mission is to make loneliness everyone’s business.
Loneliness is a growing issue as families, societies and communities become increasingly fragmented, especially for those in later life. We have a growing ageing population which means loneliness is likely to become an even bigger problem in the future. This is a challenge we need to face head-on, which is why we are growing as an organisation.
What roles are you currently recruiting for to support the campaign?
We’re going through an exciting phase as we have £2.65million in lottery funding to part-fund our work over the next four years. We’re expanding our ambitions and team across the UK and are currently recruiting for eight roles to be in post by 8th June.
The roles span two main fields:
Campaigning and policy & research:
We’re looking for a London-based director to lead our highly respected campaigning and policy & research team. You will manage a policy and research manager and four campaign managers, three of which we’re also currently recruiting for - one in England, Scotland and Wales.
The campaign managers will deliver groundbreaking community-led campaigning work in their respective regions of Cambridge, Glasgow, and Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.
The director will also manage a policy & research manager who will ensure that evidence of the impact of our work on reducing loneliness is pulled into all our campaigning and communications. You will also manage our international cohort of researchers who work with us and ensure we continue to be seen as the place to come for the latest research on loneliness in later life.
Development & communications:
For this team we are recruiting a partnerships manager to create a new corporate partnerships function. We already have strong relationships with corporate partners but now need a manager to drive forward more innovative partnership ideas and relations and bring on board more funding and trading opportunities.
We are recruiting a media communications manager and a digital communications manager who will work across the other teams and partner organisations to ensure campaigns dovetail with our community campaigning work.
We have been challenged by the Big Lottery Fund to demonstrate how we’re making an impact on loneliness. We are looking for an evaluation officer who will ensure we test and learn from our work across all our geographical areas and functions. You will also work with an external evaluation consultancy to ensure we continually improve our work as we go through the next four years.
Describe a typical day in the life of someone working on the Campaign to End Loneliness
We wouldn’t have got to where we are now without working effectively with others. A huge amount of your time will involve getting out and about meeting all sorts of people. You will liaise with our partner organisations on a daily basis to build strong, positive, honest and creative relationships with them so we can link up to reduce the impact of loneliness in later life.
Raising public awareness and working with businesses are two key areas of focus. A typical day may involve delivering presentations, giving national or regional press interviews and publishing materials online, or planning our next phase of campaigning work and staying ahead of what others are doing to tackle loneliness.
We’re growing the team from four to 12 in a short space of time, so strong teamwork within each function and across the different strands will be key to success. Wherever you are based, you will work towards shared targets and solutions every single day and be looking to add value through cross-team collaboration.
What skills and experience are required?
We’re looking for experts who are the very best at executing their chosen field of work. You will be a strategic thinker - aware of your external environment and how the Campaign can influence it as well as a confident yet nuanced relationship builder. You should be hungry to work in a fast-paced and thriving not-for-profit organisation, ready to contribute every skill and talent you’ve got in order to make our ambitions a success.
The director of campaigns, policy and research role also requires someone with a breadth of experience as a senior manager. You will need a huge amount of vision and drive to set up a new way of working in our four pilot areas across the UK and to weave in policy and evidence into that brief.
The key skills you need to succeed in any role at the Campaign to End Loneliness include:
- Team-working and partnerships focus: The ability to work with others is key for all the positions we’re recruiting for, as our work is largely dependent on our partnerships network. As our team grows, cross-team collaboration will be increasingly vital.
- Strategic thinking: Every person in the team must bring a wider perspective to their work - we expect people to constantly seek out what's happening in the wider environment and how we can respond and shape our work for the better as a result.
- Communication skills: We are a communications organisation so ultimately our daily job and greatest asset is to be able to influence how others act by using words to explain and express what people can do to reduce loneliness.
- Project management: You must execute your work with brilliance, managing projects and budgets and reporting back on progress. You need to pay close attention to detail to track progress and recommend next steps yet remain flexible and positive when new opportunities or problems arise!
- Creativity and problem solving: Your work will involve setting up initiatives from scratch, so expect to hit questions, challenges and new opportunities. Every team member needs to be able to communicate effectively across different teams to tackle the challenges and opportunities that each day brings.
Why would someone want to work on this campaign?
We’re offering a very attractive opportunity to join a fast-growing and highly regarded organisation which, in four years time, will be in a vastly different place, and have made an impact upon the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. So far, the campaign has worked to make loneliness a public health issue. We went out with the statement: ‘Loneliness is worse for your health than smoking’ and this message is now being used by government.
Many people and organisations are now taking action because of our work, including local authorities. We’re also well connected internationally - people in Australia, Sweden, France, Canada and America are learning from us to create campaigns based on our work.
We’re highly influential but we believe we’ve barely scratched the surface. This is a great time to join us and help us create brand new change and a positive and connected future for us all as we age.
And what are the challenges?
There is a lot of ‘new’ going on which is a challenge for all of us. We’re experiencing the fastest growth we’ve ever had, from a headcount of one in 2001, to four at present, to 12 by June. Our charity partners are keen to see our support and best practice research continue. The challenge will be to continue business as usual while ramping up new areas of work.
We have a massive responsibility to ensure the £2.65million lottery fund makes a huge difference. Millions of people experience loneliness, from bereaved and newly retired people to those who move away when they reach a certain age. So we are scaling up our reach and team, and as a result we need to demonstrate increased impact and outcomes - more than ever before.
What opportunities for training and development are there?
We offer robust performance management of all our teams and staff. We look at any development or training that would enhance your current work and improve your future career options. We assess the business needs against the individual’s current skill-set and personal ambitions, and we identify training opportunities to bridge any gaps. I strongly believe in personal development and looking at a range of options from learning on the job, reflection, peer mentoring to traditional training courses.
What tips would you offer applicants?
- Make it easy for the employer: The people shortlisting for these roles will be looking at numerous applications. Use the exact headings from the person specification to explain how you meet the criteria. Making our lives easier will give you a higher chance of landing an interview.
- Provide examples: Don’t just tell us you have excellent communication skills or you like working in a team. Demonstrate how you’ve put those skills to use and what difference it made to your organisation. Be prepared to bring even more examples to interview.
- Prepare for your interview: Have a clear vision for the role you want and be ready to answer questions around how you think it will make a difference. Have the operational focus as well as a bigger picture focus in mind.