The HR Juggler

Archive for the ‘Fundraising’ Category

As part of our corporate social responsibility activity, Informa partners with the Prince’s Trust, a brilliant organisation that makes a huge difference to the lives of the one in five young people in the UK who are not in work, education or training. This year for the first time, some of our employees have taken part in the Million Makers challenge, forming three teams that have come up with a business plan, secured seed funding and are currently competing to raise the most money for The Prince’s Trust through their own enterprises.

Over the next few days I will be running a series of blogs featuring these three teams and the fantastic and inspiring projects they are running to raise money. I’m immensely proud of all of them for the hard work, dedication, determination and innovation they have demonstrated…all on top of very busy day-jobs!

The first team to be featured is Hour Manchester…and excitingly, I also have a free copy of their beautiful book to give away…! It’s only fair to let them describe their product and experience in their own words –


‘Hour Manchester’ is a hardback reprographic book published in the spirit of The Prince’s Trust ‘Million Makers’ challenge, aiming to raise £10,000 for the charity. In order to put this book together we held a photography competition to capture and record images of Greater Manchester, its people, its community and its soul over a period of 24hrs. Ninety six of the winning entries have been published in the book, all sale proceeds of which will be donated to The Prince’s Trust.

Along the way we received a great deal of support from our company Informa, as well as local businesses and sponsors. We also managed to get a few celebrities involved in the project, including Marc Riley (BBC Radio 6), John Robb (Louder Than War) and Mary Anne Hobbs (Xfm). But the turning point, we believe, was getting some high-profile judges on board to help us choose from the hundreds of entries we received, ones that really stood out. Kevin Cummins – a professional photographer renowned for his work with rock musicians and bands – and Helen Wewiora – a visual arts officer at Arts Council England – both agreed to help us make a selection of 9 images that deserved some extra attention. Their input has been priceless to us and the people who have been selected.

Which is why this book is a promise of stunning and striking photographs that record the everyday lives of Mancunians. We believe the finished ‘Hour Manchester’ book is an innovative collection of iconic Manchester images seen through the eyes of the people that live in this vibrant city. And it just happens to be an amazing Christmas gift idea that is not only unique but would also help the underprivileged young people that The Prince’s Trust supports. If you would like to purchase a copy go to our Just Giving page and make a donation of £15 and we’ll send you your very own copy!


In order to enter the competition to win one of these very special books, please leave a comment below, stating what you love most about the city of Manchester. The competition will remain open until the end of Tuesday 27th November and will be judged by our very own Hour Manchester team, who are far more qualified than me in the topic of their home  city!

To give you a flavour of what is in the book, have a look at this homemade, very lovely video…



And here are just a few of the many excellent entries received…


So, what are you waiting for? Enter today for your chance to win this very special book. All proceeds go directly to the Prince’s Trust.

Five months ago, I signed up to run a half marathon, even though I couldn’t run a mile

Four months ago, I power-walked a marathon in the Edinburgh Moonwalk

Three and a half months ago I started to learn to run, by using a Run 10k app and gradually increasing the ratio of running to walking

One month ago I ran my first 10k race and joined a running club

Yesterday, I ate my own body weight in pasta and drank a huge amount of water

Today I ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon with 8 fantastic colleagues, finished in 2 hours 17 minutes and raised £760 for Tommy’s. It was scenic, it was tough, my hip hurt and at times I felt like I would never reach the finish line. Yet, the sense of achievement and pride is immense and I am hugely grateful and appreciative of all the off-line and online support I have received.

Today, I want to say thank you. For those who came out and cheered us on, for those who have encouraged me and given great advice, for those who have sponsored me, to everyone I have bored with running stories, worries and concerns. You’ve all helped so much more than you know.

Thank you!

High-fiving my daughter at mile 4

What makes you change the way you think about something?

Some of the most difficult experiences can be the most instrumental in altering our perspective and bringing change to the way we work and think. This can be true at work or at home: where there is discomfort and difficulty and mistakes are made, there is also often the greatest amount of learning, if we are prepared to open our minds to it.

I’ve had this type of learning experience recently, which at times felt very unpleasant and was certainly far out of my comfort zone. Whilst I wouldn’t voluntarily choose to spend too much of my working (or home!) life operating this way, I have been amazed at the level of learning that has resulted from it, through personal reflection, shared discussion and feedback with trusted friends and colleagues…as well as the passage of a little time. For me, the temporary negative has turned into a much stronger positive: a reminder of the importance of commercial pragmatism within my role, of the need to occasionally step back from following a process in order to make a better business decision and that at times the best approach is to analyse the worst possible outcome and work back from there in order to effectively manage the risk. I doubt I am the only person, HR or otherwise, who benefits from a powerful and timely reminder of all of these things ;).

I’ve also been thinking differently about running lately…my half marathon is now less than 2 weeks away and up until last weekend, training was going well, I’d run a couple of 10 mile distances and I was feeling good, prepared, positive and confident. And then, last weekend, the unexpected happened – my ankle started to hurt whilst I was running and I had to stop after a mile or so and walk home. Since then I have rested and barely run at all…which for a fledgling runner with a big race on the horizon, is a little scary and uncomfortable, to say the least. I am fairly certain that the injury is minor and that I’ll be in good shape by the time October 7th comes around, but of course there are no guarantees and I will have to be sensible and take advice from an expert. I’m not good at uncertainty!

What it has reminded me of though, is that my overall aims in undertaking this challenge were for maintaining and building fitness, to learn to run and to raise money for Tommy’s charity…all of which I have done. So, barring any unforeseen crises, I will be doing the race, even if I have to walk more of it than I had hoped to. I am still hoping and aiming to run the whole thing and if I can’t do that, then I will be signing up to another half marathon next year to have another go and finish what I have started!  Another example of assessing the worst case scenario and working backwards…I’m slowly but surely, starting to learn to think differently about it. And, if you would like to sponsor me for what I am still hoping will be a run, my link is here.

So, that’s me. How about you – what have you been thinking differently about? I’d love to know.


I’m not a runner. I don’t enjoy running. I never run for pleasure, only out of sheer necessity to catch the train when I am late leaving work.

Except, somewhere in the midst of training for the moonwalk, I became attracted to the idea of maintaining and improving my new-found fitness and I started to think the previously unthinkable, that I could perhaps learn to love running. And during May, whilst I was extending my training walks to 16, 18, 20 miles and starting to understand the power of saying yes, I agreed to run a half marathon with some fantastic work colleagues in October in aid of Tommy’s.

I am struggling to convey the enormity of the challenge to me at that point – I knew that I couldn’t run even half a mile without stopping and I wasn’t willing to risk my already strained muscles by starting to train for running before I had completed the moonwalk and rested properly. So it wasn’t until the end of June that I started to do my first short runs and could put my determination and blind faith to any sort of test. It’s not easy learning to run, but I had at least developed some good stamina and was able to run for five minutes and walk for one minute over three miles during my first foray into running.

I’ve been going out for a run three times a week and I’m starting to reap the benefits – tomorrow I will be running 25 minutes without stopping, walking for a minute and then running a further 25 minutes. If I stick to my training plan (which I will!) in another week I will be running for 45 minutes, walking for 1 minute and running for a further 20 minutes. My body is in training and my mind is too…I know I can do this now and I’m starting to enjoy it. I love the fact that I am doing something that I thought I couldn’t, pushing against my own perceived limits and that I have this huge and daunting challenge to aim for.

It turns out, as ever, that the only real limitations are in my own head.

I am becoming a runner. I enjoy running and I will keep running for pleasure and necessity. If I can do it, so can you!

I do have a sponsorship page, but I know many of you have already sponsored me for the moonwalk, for which I am already hugely grateful. I’d love to hear any great fundraising ideas that you may have and will keep you posted with how I get on 🙂

I’m quite good at saying no. Politely, firmly…even with a dash of charm and humour on a good day. But oh, the wonderful and fantastic adventures that a yes can lead to!

Back in January, I said yes to taking part in the Edinburgh moonwalk – walking 26.2 miles at night in my bra with 14 work colleagues, in order to raise money for breast cancer charities. This weekend, we travelled up on the train, we saw the sights of Edinburgh, we donned our glitzy bras…and we did it!

It was tough. It poured down with rain on Saturday and by the time we arrived in Inverleith Park, the ground was a muddy bog and it was impossible to avoid getting wet feet before we had even started. Even inside the marquee, muddy water seeped through the temporary floor. One group of women had plastic bags tied around their feet, which they didn’t remove until they were safely on tarmac and the walk had began…a very smart idea indeed. The walk started for our group at midnight and because we were towards the back, it took around 10 minutes to cross the start line. The crowd of women (and a few men!) walking through the steady rain in their bras and waterproof ponchos, was an awesome sight, snaking up the hill as far as the eye could see. This was a force to be reckoned with, masses of extraordinary individuals committed to walking through the rainy night, raising money for a common cause.

We walked…and walked…and walked. Never quite as fast as I had managed during my daytime training, but certainly quickly enough; through the dark streets, past the many pubs and bars, up the hills, along the cobbles, by the seafront. And along the way we were encouraged and cheered by volunteers, greeted with “good morning!” (even at half past midnight, which took a little getting used to!) and given water, sweets, fruit and a cup of hot chocolate at mile 20.

26.2 miles is a long way and at night seemed even longer. Dawn broke early, not long after 3am and, other than for the first hour and an a half, the rain mostly held off. My right leg became sore after 18 or so miles, yet still we walked, always in view of those behind us and keeping our eyes on the people and the path ahead. Buildings were lit up in pink, well-wishers hung out of windows in the middle of the night to cheer us on and the sense of goodwill, support and encouragement was quite simply overwhelming.

We crossed the finish line just after 7am, with tears in our eyes and huge smiles on our faces. Determination, elation and an enormous sense of achievement.

My team has raised over £10,000 so far for breast cancer charities. Even in our relatively small group, we shared so many heartbreaking and inspiring stories of how breast cancer has affected us or those very close to us. Thank you so much for your support and sponsorship, it means an enormous amount to me and to the team, to WalktheWalk and the people and charities they help. If you haven’t sponsored me and would like to, there is still time and you can do so by clicking here.

Thank you. I will be saying yes more often!

It’s funny, isn’t it, how some of the most important and powerful lessons we have to learn, or be reminded of, more than once.

Early in my career, less than a year after I had started my first HR job, I was lucky enough to take part in a leadership ‘outward bounds’ course which took place in the far north of Scotland. It was a memorable experience for a number of reasons and at times quite extreme…from arriving at the remote location by canoe and each member of the team performing an eskimo roll in the freezing loch before entering our accommodation; to abseiling, orienteering, hiking and attempting to climb the 100 foot mast of a boat whilst sailing in less than calm waters. Whether these types of courses are the most effective way of developing leadership skills is a separate question – I shudder slightly to remember parts of it – but overall I enjoyed the experience immensely and certainly learned a lot.

One of the biggest lessons I learned was through my first (and last!) experience of rock-climbing. The learning was two-fold: firstly as an observer on the ground below, my role was to encourage and guide my colleague as she climbed the seemingly sheer rock-face, describing where she could place her hands and feet to progress to the top. Here, I tried my best, but I underestimated the level of help that my colleague (also a first-time climber) needed and the powerful impact that a knowledgeable and confident coach can have on performance. I didn’t communicate to her as frequently, succintly and clearly as required; I dithered and so did she…I lost confidence and so did she…and she didn’t make it to the top.  She held only herself responsible, but I knew that I could have made more of a difference to her performance; particularly when it came to be my turn to climb and I scaled the rock face successfully, thanks almost entirely to the expert, confident, encouraging guidance I was given from another colleague below.

I can’t describe the elation, disbelief and sheer joy I felt when I reached the top…I vividly remember hugging the HR Director and exclaiming that I had done it and him remarking with conviction that I could do anything I wanted, if I set my mind to it, believed in it and worked to make it happen. A powerful lesson learned…and one that I fully embraced and was embedded into my consciousness.

And yet, if I’m honest, I have had to learn that lesson, that I can do anything I want to, many times, not least because the inner monologue that plays in my mind often begs to differ and advances a different view, one of potential issues, of limitations, of uncertainty. One that forgets that with discipline, commitment and preparation, plus a little self-belief and imagination, pretty much anything is possible. I doubt I’m alone in that regard. Understanding when to ignore and override one’s own inner monologue is perhaps the most powerful lesson of all.

I was reminded of all of this whilst walking on Friday, training for the Moonwalk, which is now only 6 weeks away.* I have been following the training plan, feel quietly confident and am enjoying becoming fitter and healthier. And for some time now, I have been questioning not whether I can do it, but thinking and planning what my next challenge might be, once I have undertaken and completed it. That’s a good feeling and an exciting one, as I have again been reminded that I can achieve so much more than I sometimes believe. Not only that, but I have far more impact on the success of others than I often realise…and that is certainly something that I want to remember and act on, not only during the moonwalk, but also at work and at home. I want to be the person who successfully encourages the other individual to the top of the rock-face, not just be the person who manages to achieve it myself.

What about you? What leadership lessons have you learned, either once or many times?  Any rock-climbing stories?! I’d love to know :).

* If you would like to sponsor me for the Moonwalk, you can do so by clicking on this link – thank you!

I’m a firm believer that if you commit to doing something, you should do it properly and make the experience as great as it possibly can be. The more of yourself, of your time and your energy you put in; the more tangible results, satisfaction and sense of achievement you and others will get out of it.

So, having agreed to walk a marathon at night (and in my bra) as part of the Moonwalk 2012 team, I have spent much of this week buying some of the basic equipment required to start power-walking, planning how I am going to approach the training and beginning to fundraise. I am hugely grateful of everyone who has sponsored me so far, if you haven’t yet and have been meaning to, the link is here.

I’m very aware that what I have done so far is the easy bit – essentially shopping, starting to walk more and planning. It is not so much the walking that worries me as I am confident that I have plenty of time to build up my stamina and fitnes levels; I am already concerned though with how I will manage walking throughout the night in this way. I have never done anything like this before and I am certainly not a natural ‘night owl’…far from it!

I am keen to raise as much money as I possibly can for Walk The Walk, which is a grant-making charity, not only dedicated to raising funds for vital breast cancer causes but is also passionate about encouraging women and men to become fitter and healthier. I rather imagine I shall become fitter and healthier myself over the next 5 months ;).

I’ve got a few different ideas for fundraising and would love it if you would be able to support me in any of them –

  • I’m willing to open this blog up to advertising over the next 5 months, in return for a generous sponsorship donation. All money raised will go to Walk The Walk and the company logos will appear on the top right hand side of my blog, with a click through to your website
  • Would you like me to write a guest blog for you? Happy to do so, in return for some sponsorship!
  • I have been dabbling in writing children’s stories lately and if you know a little person who would like a short story written especially for them, complete with illustration, then let me know and let’s talk 🙂

Contact me on Twitter @AlisonChisnell, leave me a comment on the blog…I’d love to hear from you if you are interested in any of these options. I’d also love to hear about any fundraising ideas you have tried and what has worked really well.

As the lovely Doug Shaw will attest, what goes around, comes around…and you really do get what you give! I’m determined to put in as much effort and commitment to this challenge as I possibly can…and I would love it if you can help me along the way.


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