Meet our Unleashed Women – Simone Whitfield
Simone Whitfield is a member of The Hunger Project UK’s Unleashed Women movement. She recently took part in fundraising challenge to abseil down London’s tallest sculpture, the ArcelorMittal Orbit and raised an incredible amount of money. We asked Simone a few questions about her abseil experience, why she joined Unleashed Women and her fundraising tips.
Why did you decide to invest in the work of The Hunger Project UK?
I’m originally from New Zealand and have been lucky enough over my life to have lived on 4 continents and travelled through another two, seeing firsthand the disparity between the Global North and the developing countries. I’ve also been involved on the Global Board for my employers Women Empowered Employee Resource Group for the last 3.5 years which has really opened my eyes to the challenges a lack of gender equality brings. For me, the underlying issues which result in hunger; including economic equality, health, education, social justice, the rights of women and girls and climate change are those we need global collaboration and empowerment of those impacted to address.
The tipping point for me came at a One of Many event where Sara Price used a really powerful story about the impact of climate change and how important it is that the women in these countries are taught what a difference they can make and empowered to put that into action – the quote from Septembers first Africa Climate Summit ‘We’re not victims, we’re part of the solution’ for me illustrates exactly why this work is so important and why I see this as an investment in the future I want to enable.
Why did you decide to join the Unleashed Women Movement?
I’m inspired daily by the stories and impact I see members of this community making – causing ripples across the world. The opportunity to connect with, and learn from so many amazing women is one of my ways of investing in the ongoing habitability of our planet.
How do you translate your impact goals into action in your day to day?
The underlying issues are so key – I’m always looking for ways to connect and share with people who support these causes as the human element is crucial to our ability to address these huge issues globally.
How has Unleashed Women helped you on your impact journey?
I’m still relatively new to this community, but the money, I love seeing how the money I’ve donated and raised so far can have an impact in some of the countries I’ve been to and others which I’d like to one day see.
Simone (centre) with members of Unleashed Women at the Abseil Challenge.
Why did you decide to do the Abseil Challenge?
September was a really crazy month for me – on the 7th our son and another friend were badly injured in a major car crash and are still working through their recovery. There were major systemic failings throughout the process which had really ignited my inner warrioress who wanted to do something to bring balance! On the 15th I had my MBA graduation which made me more visible to people I could tap up in fundraising so when Sassi put the call out on the 18th for a volunteer for the 24th I felt the timing was fortuitous though scary! My husband’s response to whether I should do it was just “Yes you should”!
What was your experience like fundraising for The Hunger Project UK?
I started with Just Giving, and shared the link to my fundraiser out on Facebook, WhatsApp and LinkedIn. As Global Chair of our Women Empowered ERG, I’d been at a recent training at work about the impact of our #LumenCares platform which is powered by Benevity which allows my company to match donations made by staff. I was able to work with our Corporate Social Responsibility team to set up a Giving opportunity as an opportunity to test and showcase the functionality. I then shared both links out via personalised emails to groups of people at work, letting them know why I was doing the abseil and how important the work of The Hunger Project is and how it aligns with my personal values. The combination really worked well and I was able to get a big impact in a short time due to having an elevated profile due to the combination of highs and lows in my world. In addition to the $ matching, work also allows us to track volunteer time through Benevity for which they also donate funds towards – this gave me the ability to also donate the funds for my time to the Hunger Project too.
Work is also now showcasing the impact as a case study which will hopefully encourage more direct matching in the future.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining Unleashed Women or doing a fundraising challenge?
GO FOR IT. The experience both exhilarated and terrified me but the fulfilment you get from making a difference, and the support you get from the other Unleashed Women is incredible. To pay the support forward for others I’m more than happy to connect with, and have a chat with anyone on the fence.