This month’s speaker is James Lovatt who is the online marketing specialist for Rotary International Britain and Ireland (RIBI). He is also a Rotarian and member of Click4Action. Here he is talking to John Isles about his passion with Rotary.
John: Hi James and welcome to our Click4Action speaker slot. Many members may not know you are working at RIBI in Alcester. How did that come about?
James: After finishing university in 2009, graduating with a 2:1 in Business I pursued a project/event management career for a couple of years and found myself working both in the sports and later the energy industry. It was during a short period of redundancy, between the two roles, that I joined a volunteer service organisation called Rotaract, a Rotary programme with over 150,000 members worldwide aged 18-30. and thanks to the voluntary work I did for Rotaract it led to me growing in confidence and entrepreneurial ambition. So in December 2011 I found myself turning a small non-profit documentary into a business concept from which other documentaries could be made. It started with a friend and I producing a documentary following my brother. It covered his aim to become a professional triathlete with a human rights ethos to raise awareness of the persecution on Falun Gong. This made me realise where my passions ultimately lay for my future career.
The work I have done with Rotaract has allowed me to take part in fundraisers and event manage my own fundraisers. I have built my awareness getting involved in human rights organisations like the Burma Campaign UK and other organisations. I became the Chairman of Rotaract in Great Britain & Ireland for 2013/14 and have also taken on a voluntary role with Amnesty International UK where I co-ordinate the China and East Asia region for activists in our groups around the country.
I saw an opening within the Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland (RIBI) secretariat where I could use the skills I’d learnt to take on an online marketing role. I relocated back to the West Midlands and have spent the last 20 months working on various projects to improve our communication channels with Rotary members. That includes the recent redevelopment of the RIBI website – www.ribi.org.
John: Rotaract must have been a good introduction to Rotary.
James: Having spent an enriching four years in Rotaract I knew that Rotary was the next step I wanted to take and felt the time was right this year. My first role within Rotary (by choice) has been to lead Rotaract in the district and try to get some enthusiasm to start up local clubs. One relatively new idea has been to create an online platform where 18-30 year olds can get together to give voluntary service focusing on creating positive social action. You can find out more at www.rotaracthub.org. It’s a little like a Rotary e-club, and hence why I knew that was the type of Rotary club I wanted to join – something that offered me the flexibility to fit around my other commitments.
John: You clearly have a great interest in Charities, how did that start?
James: A complicated family history, As I grew up I moved between four countries for various reasons. My Dad took me to Scotland and my Mum later took me to Spain before briefly at 16 years of age I was living in Burma with my mother who was coaching the national equestrian team. At that point I had little idea of the passions tthat would end in me pursuing a career in the international development sector, but nevertheless it did.
In October 2011 I decided to move to London to further my business, and our documentary was launched in May 2012 partnering with NTD Television – the largest independent broadcaster of news into China (reaching 250million people in mainland China). However, some barriers to success in this industry meant I had to seek out other opportunities and I spent three months as an intern at Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund – a fantastic charity that was established in 1962 as the relief arm of Amnesty International. They are the only agency in the UK making grants specifically to prisoners of conscience – individuals who have been persecuted for their conscientiously-held beliefs, provided that they have not used or advocated violence. Patrons include Aung San Suu Kyi and Desmond Tutu. I’m now working with Freedom from Torture in Birmingham to increase its reach because I believe in the aims of the charity and want to see it do even more good where it’s needed, which is in too many places.
To be continued 11 September 2014.