HomeDebrett’s 500 2017Philanthropists & Activists


Philanthropists & Activists

Founder, Everyday Sexism
Laura Bates set up The Everyday Sexism Project after working as a nanny and realising that the two girls in her care were already concerned about their body image. She invited women to share their own experiences of sexism, and accounts of incidents from workplace discrimination to serious sexual assault flooded in from around the world. The project has since influenced policy on gender discrimination in schools, workplaces and governments. In 2014 Bates published Everyday Sexism the book, followed in 2016 by Girl Up, described by The Sunday Times as 'something between a self-help book and a bracing love letter to today's teenage girls'.
Charity Patron
Prince William is patron and president of a number of charities and in 2009 he set up The Royal Foundation with Prince Harry as a vehicle for their philanthropic work. The Foundation, which now includes the Duchess of Cambridge as a patron, has contributed to and raised awareness of a number of causes, including Heads Together, which campaigns to end stigma around mental health. He also recently launched a taskforce to tackle cyber-bullying and is Royal patron of conservation charity Tusk Trust and Centrepoint, which supports the homeless.
Chairman, Clore Duffield Foundation
Dame Vivien Duffield took over her father Sir Charles Clore’s foundation after his death, later merging it with her own to form the Clore Duffield Foundation. She has been one of the UK’s most active philanthropists ever since, and the foundation has given over £300 million in grants to the arts, education and culture, while its Clore Leadership Programme was set up to develop and mentor a generation of cultural leaders. The foundation recently purchased Wave, part of the Tower of London’s poppy installation commemorating the First World War, so that it could tour the country before taking up residence at the Imperial War Museum.
Founding Trustee, The Clink Charity
Born into the UK’s richest family, Edwina Grosvenor has devoted much of her life and fortune to prison reform and the rehabilitation of ex-offenders. She is a founding trustee of The Clink Charity, which trains prisoners across four restaurants – in HMPs Brixton, High Down, Styal and Cardiff – and finds work for them in the hospitality industry upon release, reducing the chance of them reoffending by almost half. Lady Edwina also set up One Small Thing, which trains prison staff working with women who may have a history of trauma.
Businessman and Philanthropist
The billionaire founder of asset management firm CQS Sir Michael Hintze set up the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation with his wife Dorothy in 2005. Over 200 charities have benefited since its creation and Sir Michael has become one of the UK’s most notable philanthropists. The foundation has provided support to Trinity Hospice in London, the Natural History Museum, the Old Vic and the V&A, and Sir Michael is also a notable donor to the Conservative party. The couple received the Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy in 2009.
CEO, Share Action
Share Action promotes responsible investment and campaigns against corporate practices that have a negative environmental or social impact. Established 10 years ago, it was formed out of a campaign by student organisation People & Planet that persuaded the UK's largest pension provider to adopt a policy of responsible investment. It is now working to ensure the government protects UK pensions in the wake of the Brexit vote. CEO Catherine Howarth obtained a First from Oxford and a Master's from LSE. She was lead organiser for West London Citizens, part of Citizens UK, for eight years, and joined Share Action as CEO in 2008.
Founder and CEO, RECLAIM
A decade ago former teacher Ruth Ibegbuna founded RECLAIM, a charity that works with young people across Greater Manchester and promotes social mobility through youth leadership programmes. RECLAIM works to improve young people’s engagement with their communities and to help them become role models through programmes like LEAD, a two-year leadership course for 12-and 13-year-olds, which builds confidence, resilience and social skills. Ibegbuna, who is also a foster carer, was named 2016 Social CEO of the Year for her lively Twitter feed, on which she muses on both social inequality and her love for former footballer John Barnes.
CEO, Citizens UK
Neil Jameson set up Citizens UK under the name The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO) in 1994 and the charity is now a hub for community organising in the UK. One of its most notable campaigns has been for a living wage – currently £8.45 per hour outside of London and £9.75 within. Almost 3,000 companies have so far committed to pay it, meaning that the Living Wage Foundation has secured over £100 million of additional wages annually. Citizens UK is currently campaigning to find 5,000 homes for Syrian refugees.
Trustee and Co-Founder, Maggie's Centres
Cultural theorist, landscape designer, architectural critic and historian Charles Jencks co-founded Maggie’s Centres after his late wife, Maggie Keswick Jencks, was told her breast cancer had returned and she only had months to live. Designed by some of the world’s best architects including Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers, the ‘small havens’ provide practical and emotional support to people suffering from cancer. The first Maggie’s opened in 1996 in Edinburgh and the 20th at the end of 2016 in the Forth Valley. The same year saw a Maggie’s Tokyo, while an online centre offers 24-hour support to cancer sufferers and their families.
Chief Executive, City Year UK
Sophie Livingstone heads up youth and education charity City Year, which encourages young people to spend a year volunteering in schools. The volunteers provide much-needed support and mentoring to children from disadvantaged backgrounds, while also learning leadership, teamwork and confidence. Livingstone joined the charity in 2007 from a background encompassing public, private and charity sectors. She has recently been campaigning for full-time volunteers to be legally recognised and supported by the government and is also co-chair of Generation Change, an umbrella organisation bringing together charities that support social action amongst young people.
Founder and CEO, Tusk Trust
Founded in 1990, charity Tusk Trust works to protect wildlife and alleviate poverty in Africa. To date, it has spent around £25 million defending endangered species and supporting communities and education. Charlie Mayhew, who established the charity with actor Timothy Ackroyd, first grew to love Africa after leading an expedition from London to Cape Town via the Sahara, Congo and East Africa, which he persuaded his insurance firm to sponsor. He has since devoted much of his life to protecting its wildlife and communities.
CEO, London Early Years Foundation
June O'Sullivan has led the childcare charity and social enterprise London Early Years Foundation for the past decade. LEYF, which began life in 1903 as the Westminster Health Society, operates 38 nurseries in deprived areas and subsidises 43% of its places while paying living wage and providing training and pensions to its staff. A qualified psychiatric nurse and social worker, O'Sullivan writes and speaks regularly on issues surrounding childcare and child poverty. She is social entrepreneur in residence at the University of Middlesex.
Founder and CEO, Fair Finance
Fair Finance lends money to those considered uncreditworthy to protect them from predatory payday lenders. It has so far lent more than £12 million to individuals and businesses, taking a transparent and responsible approach in assessing circumstances and needs, and providing advice on debt and money management. All its profits are reinvested to benefit customers, and last year it received FCA authorisation. Its founder Faisel Rahman has spent more than a decade in charge of the charity, having previously worked for community development organisation The Environment Trust.
Co-founder, Community Links
One of the UK's largest local charities, Community Links was set up 40 years ago by David Robinson and Kevin Jenkins. The charity operates in Newham, one of London's most deprived and diverse boroughs, and works with both children and adults, running youth clubs and providing help with work, health and housing. A proponent of early action to prevent crises rather than dealing with their consequences, the charity also campaigns and conducts research to influence government policy. David Robinson questioned the future role of charities at a recent conference, saying that ‘value-led organisations’ may viably supersede traditional distinctions between sectors.
Philanthropist, Anthropologist and Publisher
Grant-giving foundation the Sigrid Rausing Trust is one of the UK's largest philanthropic organisations. Since it was founded in 1995 it has given away £250 million to human rights organisations, and its hundreds of grantees include Disability Action, English PEN and Liberty. Founder and trustee Sigrid Rausing is the granddaughter of Swedish Tetra Pak co-founder Ruben Rausing. An anthropologist by background, she and her husband set up Portobello Books in 2005 and acquired literary magazine Granta soon after. She is set to publish a memoir in 2017.
Founder, Gatsby Charitable Foundation
Labour life peer David Sainsbury is one of the UK’s most active philanthropists having founded the Gatsby Charitable Foundation in 1967 to provide funding for charitable causes in education and science, the arts, public policy, and poverty in Africa. In 2009 he became the first Briton to have donated over £1 billion to charity. He is currently chancellor of Cambridge University, to which he is also a major donor, and remains active in politics: in the run up to the 2016 EU referendum, it emerged that he had donated more that £2 million to each of Labour and the Liberal Democrats’ Remain campaigns.
401 Challenge and Sports Charity Ambassador
On 5th October 2016, Ben Smith completed his 401st marathon in 401 days in his home town of Portishead, raising over £300,000 in the process. Despite an enforced 10-day hiatus caused by a hernia, he made up the distance lost and managed to fit in the London Marathon – which he completed in four and a half hours. Smith, who was bullied at school, raised the money on behalf of anti-bullying charity Kidscape and Stonewall, the organisation that campaigns on behalf of the LGBT community. He has received many awards in recognition of his achievement, including the prestigious Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award.
Chairman, BBC Children in Need
Chairman of one of the UK’s best-supported charities, Stevie Spring has seen Children in Need raise over £600 million for sick and disabled children since she joined in 2008. Last year the charity introduced its inaugural Sir Terry Wogan Fundraiser of the Year Award in memory of the broadcaster, which was awarded to an eleven-year-old who raised money by performing as a human statue in shopping centres. Prior to Children in Need, Spring worked in advertising and media, served three terms as chairman of The Groundwork Federation and was audit chair for Arts and Business, one of the Prince’s charities.
Founder and Executive Director, Environmental Justice Foundation
The Environmental Justice Foundation campaigns to address and raise awareness of a number of environmental issues globally, including human rights violations, the impact of climate change, illegal fishing, and toxic pesticides. Steve Trent set up the charity in 2000 with Juliette Williams and had extensive experience in environmental advocacy prior to that as campaigns director at the Environmental Investigation Agency and then co-founder and president of WildAid. EJF's high profile patrons include Lily Cole, Antony Gormley and Emilia Fox.
Founder and President, Prince's Trust and President, Prince's Charities
Prince Charles set up the Prince’s Trust with Frederick Pervin 40 years ago. Now the UK’s leading youth charity, it works with 60,000 young people each year, targeting the long-term unemployed, those who have been in trouble with the law or experienced difficulties at school, and those who have been in care. Over the last decade its efforts on behalf of young people – which include enterprise schemes, grants, training and personal development – have been valued at £1.4 billion. The Trust is just one of the organisations under the Prince’s Charities group, which span education, architecture, business and the environment in the UK, Canada and Australia.
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