I knew that I wanted to write a roundup blog post about my year as president of JCI Southampton but I think without limiting myself to 10 highlights, this blog could end up a bit ridiculously long! So here are my 10 highlights of my year of leading JCI Southampton.
I had a bit of a crazy idea at the JCI UK AGM in September 2018. I was thinking about the fact that it was JCI Southampton’s 60th Anniversary year in 2019 at the same time that a debate was going on in the room about how we could engage our members more and help them get more out of their membership. As a chamber, we had always done a minimum of 2 events per month – one social, one training. I was thinking about how we could offer more than this and suddenly thought… 60 events for our 60th year… #60for60. Once I’ve thought of something and given it a hashtag, it has to happen. It took us to an average of 5 events per month which gave our members plenty to choose from and meant we saw our members on a much more regular basis. There were times where it felt almost impossible but on 11th December we went out on a bang with our Christmas Social! We have had a year of social events, training, community campaigns, fundraising, fitness, quizzes, Uno and much much more…
As you can tell, I love a good event series name and a good hashtag. When thinking of how to theme our training events in 2019, I thought about the current climate (mentioning no B words….) and how we could help young people prepare themselves for the changing career landscape. This formed the basis of our training for the year which included sessions on financial planning, social media management, preparing for jobs that don’t exist yet and public speaking. We ran sessions on the basics of British Sign Language to promote inclusivity, a session on developing your business idea led by our National President Mark Smith and a session on bringing your MS Excel skills up to scratch. I’m really proud of the training events we have delivered this year and think we have definitely been able to provide our members with some new skills to futureproof their careers.
3. Hosting our 60th Annual Gala Dinner
The annual gala dinner is a flagship event for a lot of local chambers so I was really excited to host our anniversary gala at St Mary’s Stadium. In keeping with our theme, we had 60 attendees including National President Mark Smith, 3 past National Presidents, 8 past JCI Southampton presidents, current and past members, senators and friends. We had a speech from Chris Davies MBE from our charity of the year Southampton City Mission which highlighted the vital work they do for our community in Southampton. This was followed by a speech by Dorothy Francis MBE (who may or may not be my mum….) all about the importance of preparing yourself and your career for the future. It’s almost like we planned this…
We fundraised over £400 from the raffle along with the profits from ticket sales going to the charity, the night tipped us over our £1000 fundraising goal for the year. Then I rounded off the night by getting a bit emotional about how much I love JCI. Standard.
4. Running a training session on British Sign Language
During 2018, I took my level one certificate in British Sign Language. Once the course had finished, I realised I was quickly losing my skills and knowledge through lack of practice and this motivated me to run a training session covering the basic skills with the focus on using basic sign to make workplaces more inclusive, which is something I’m really passionate about. Attendees left the session knowing how to ask if someone needs help and tips to help bridge the gap between them as a hearing person and a deaf person if needed.
5. Running Pound a Day at a local level
For the past few years, JCI UK has run a brilliant fundraising activity called £1 a day where members challenge themselves to live off £7 for all food and drink for a week. JCI UK decided not to run this nationally in 2019 so we decided to run it locally in JCI Southampton as it fits hand in hand with our 2019 charity of the year ‘Southampton City Mission’ and our chosen SDGs of the year “No Poverty” and “Zero Hunger”.
This was my first year taking part in Pound a Day (created by our honorary JCI Southampton member, Katie Ogley) and it really opened my eyes to the struggle that people living in food poverty have to deal with. You can read more about our Pound a Day experience here.
6. Our Reduce Single Use Campaign
Our Community Director Mike planned a week long campaign focussed on encouraging our members to take stock of the single use plastic that they use daily and make small changes which will have a big impact. We kicked off the week with a beach clean highlighting how much plastic ends up in our oceans and littering our communities. Then throughout the week, we posted suggestions on ways to reduce single use in our everyday lives and we had members from Southampton taking part as well as support from JCI Doncaster, JCI Leeds and JCI Portsmouth. Check out our recap here.
7. Working with Southampton City Mission
In JCI Southampton, each year we have a charity of the year who we choose to work with and it is one of the only decisions in the chamber which is done as ‘President’s Choice’ rather than a vote as it’s important that the local president has a cause which they are passionate about in order to spearhead the year long fundraising effort. I chose Southampton City Mission as they are a local charity who provide food and clothing to those in need in Southampton. It was a choice that fit perfectly with our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the year, working towards “No Poverty” and “Zero Hunger”.
We started the year with our Pound a Day Challenge, followed by a Lent Appeal before Easter. We had 3 members run the ABP Southampton Half Marathon & 10k in May (our spaces were kindly donated by ReesLeisure). We ran food collection drives in our workplaces and had some generous donations from HJS Solutions. We fundraised at our 60th Annual Gala Dinner and our Big Fat Charity Quiz of the year. Finally, we’re ending the year with our Reverse Advent Calendar which you can still take part in!
Our fundraising has been split across a few platforms due to BT Donate closing at the end of June but we have cautiously estimated that we have raised at least £1400 and we will be announcing the official figure in January so watch this space!
8. Our European Debating victory
Last November, at National Convention in Doncaster, our JCI Southampton debating team were announced as winners of the national competition and therefore we went on to debate at a European level at European Conference in Lyon in May. We were up against some really tough competition with teams from Ireland, Finland, Norway and more. Our topics included “Social Media contributes to world peace”, “Free Public Transport is vital to sustainable smart cities” and the topic in the final “Storytelling is a meaningful and vital way to connect with potential stakeholders immediately”. We debated passionately, fueled by adrenaline and french pastries and were all proud just to have taken part but then that evening at the gala dinner, in front of 1500 guests, we were announced as European Champions. Still not over it.
You can read more about the skills I learnt from debating in my blog post from earlier in the year – here
9. Engaging our members
As you might imagine with 60 events, I have seen our members on a regular basis throughout this year and have been able to learn more about them, why they are JCI members and what they want to get out of their membership. This has led to member organised projects such as our Pub Quiz series which finished with our Big Fat Charity Quiz of the Year, one of the most well attended events of the year with over £500 raised for charity – all organised by members from our corporate partner TW Metals. We had member led training events such as “Enhance Your Excel Skills” led by business intelligence expert Lewis Ball, JCI Impact led by past president Sophie Delaporte and Public Speaking led by our deputy president Zoe Toseland and community director Mike Rothon. Our finance director Mike Cooper led our monthly networking ‘Who Do Uno?’ and was recognised for stepping up by our National President. Having members lead their own events meant that we were not only providing development opportunities for those attending, but also giving the chance for the members leading the sessions to work on their presenting skills, public speaking and confidence.
10. We won a few awards…
I kept this to the last highlight even though I feel like I should have mentioned it first so I could have peppered it throughout – such as “Our award winning ‘Reduce Single Use week’”, “Our award winning new member Lewis Ball” etc etc.
We won the below awards:
- Best Networker (Fee Francis)
- Best local global goals project for our reduce single use campaign
- Best local growth and development programme for our #60for60 series of events
- Most Outstanding local communication project
- Certificate of merit for personal skills development programme (#FutureproofYourCareer)
- Most Outstanding New member for Lewis Ball
- Most Outstanding Preparation by a Deputy for Zoe Toseland
- Michael Rothon won the debating competition as part of the JCI South team
I am so proud of all of the awards we won as they are great recognition for the projects and programmes that we’ve all worked hard on this year. I am particularly proud of Zoe winning Best Preparation by a Deputy as she has been the most incredible deputy president this year and deserves the credit for our communication project award that she spearheaded too.
So as I said, I thought limiting myself to highlights would maybe keep this short and sweet but clearly not… so thank you if you’ve got this far! It has been an honour to be JCI Southampton’s president in 2019 and I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store under the leadership of our president elect Zoe!
As always, I’m happy to talk about JCI and answer any questions anyone may have so feel free to get in touch on Facebook or email me at [email protected]
Over and out!Tags: business, career, charity, clean up, community, Debating, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, environment, fundraising, JCI Southampton, JCI UK, JCI UK National Convention, leadership, Mark Smith, Pound a Day, reduce single use, single use plastic, southampton, Southampton City Mission, sustainable development goals
This post was written by Zoe Toseland