Marketing and Communications Freelancer

Location: Flexible
Two days per week for an eight to ten-week period
Flexible working hours can be considered

Mayday Trust is an organisation with a network of passionate social activists working to bring about systemic change, whilst offering people going through tough times such as homelessness, leaving care, coming out of prison or experiencing emotional trauma, support through its Person-led, Transitional and Strength-based (PTS) Response.

We also lead the New System Alliance, which is a UK wide partnership working alongside others to deliver the PTS as a mechanism for person-led and strength-based systems change.

The Role

Mayday is looking for a creative and dynamic marketing and communications professional who is able to operate at a managerial level on a freelance basis for two days a week for approximately eight to ten weeks.

We are looking for someone who can support us with:

  • Carrying out the operational and technical elements of our communication function such as website development and social media posting
  • Contributing toward the development of the communications strategy including social media/ digital and content strategies
  • PR and event management
  • Development and implementation of a new CRM database
  • Management and development of our operational online platforms
  • The provision of marketing and comms analytics for the wider organisation
  • Generating new and impactful resources and content to support our operations and influence

Are you up for the challenge?

This is an opportunity for someone who understands that in the world today, the problem is not people with ‘complex needs’ but a broken system.

Mayday is looking for someone who believes in people; someone who is comfortable to challenge the norm to ensure that people we work alongside are not further trapped and institutionalised in the failing systems surrounding tough times and can build on their strengths to live the lives they choose. A vital part of this involves having a unique perspective on how we communicate as an organisation about Mayday’s work, the people we work alongside and the images and messages we portray in all of our marketing and communications.

This role is not for the faint-hearted, it is for someone with a passion for social justice, and the energy and determination to make systems work for people going through tough times.

We would be looking to pay in the region of £300 (including VAT) per day.

How to Apply

Please submit your CV and a one-page expression of interest to recruitment@maydaytrust.org.uk

We will be accepting EOIs on an ongoing basis and hope to appoint someone early in the New Year. The ability to start as soon as possible is preferable.

Applications close on the 4th of January 2022. Online interviews will be held on Friday the 7th of January 2022.

Please note this post is subject to an Enhanced Level Disclosure & Barring Service check

Brokering Opportunities

Samantha Abram, PTS Coach at The Brick, explores Brokering opportunities and what it looks like when the term is brought to life through the Person-led, Transitional and Strength-based (PTS) Response.

I was asked what ‘brokering opportunities’ means. This sparked an interesting conversation among PTS Coaches old and new, and prompted me to re-evaluate what brokering has meant to me, as a PTS Coach, the individuals I work with and the realities of brokering as part of the Person-led Transitional Strength-based (PTS) Response.

As always, when it comes to Coaching, there are no ‘fixed’ procedure or process (we have principles and guidance), as each PTS Coach will find their own way of working, influenced by every individual they work with. From my perspective and experience, I would summarise brokering opportunities as:

A person being offered an opportunity to choose to do or act differently because they are presented with ‘choice’ that allows them to remove themselves from the confines of their current situation or self-perceived ‘limits’. The choice presents them with an opportunity to access a meaningful experience. The opportunity is entirely associated with the person’s interests, goals and ambitions and the PTS Coach has no part in deciding what, when or why that is their chosen ‘meaningful’ experience.

There is nothing ‘typical’ about the opportunities that I have brokered as a PTS Coach or the choices people make; it is truly about their dreams and aspirations. The one common factor to highlight is that every time a person chooses to participate in what they connect with, an internal process happens, a spark is ignited that reconnects the person to a part of themselves or connects them with what speaks to them on a fundamental level.

The PTS Response works for people because change becomes sustainable and real when the person chooses the changes they want to make. Brokered opportunities result in people fulfilling their passions because they connect deeply with an experience that reminded them that they are more than their circumstances or how they may feel perceived by broken systems.

Mayday welcomes Alex Fox OBE as new CEO

Mayday is excited to announce the appointment of Alex Fox OBE as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), joining the team in early 2022.

Alex brings considerable experience and joins Mayday from Shared Lives Plus, a UK membership charity for more than 6,000 Shared Lives carers, 150 Shared Lives schemes and a growing network of over 25 local Homeshare organisations. Shared Lives is one of the few strengths-based, person-led adult social care approaches to have scaled up to be truly UK-wide, reaching 15,000 people.

During Alex’s career he has welcomed and embraced systems change and strength-based working. He has been proactive in learning from people who use services and in 2018 published a book, Escaping the Invisible Asylum, which calls for a radical change in the relationships between people and the services and institutions within the Social Care sector. Alex is also Vice Chair of Think Local, Act Personal, a national partnership supporting the personalisation of care and support and a senior visiting fellow at Birmingham University. Having led a government review of health and care charities, he recently featured Mayday’s work in Meeting as Equals, a Royal Society of Arts/ National Council of Voluntary Organisations report on building ‘asset-based’ charities.

Alex takes over Mayday’s systems change mission from Pat McArdle, who led the organisation from 2010, before stepping down in August of this year.

Alex said: “Over the years, I’ve admired Mayday’s work and heard my inspirational predecessor Pat McArdle speak about the radical path that Mayday has taken. Mayday is one of only a few charities that I’ve seen truly live its radical values and be willing to be led by what people really want. Mayday has developed an approach to supporting people going through tough times which works, and which has the potential to reach thousands and transform a system which is broken for too many people. I’m excited to be joining such a unique a creative team of activists.”

Julie McEver, Chair of Mayday said: “The Board is thrilled to have been able to appoint Alex as CEO. We look forward to welcoming Alex and supporting him to evolve the work of Mayday and drive the mission forward.”

For more from Alex about joining the Mayday team please read his latest blog, Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk

Talking the talk and walking the walk

Why do so many charities talk confidently about radical change, but so few really try to achieve it?

Alex Fox OBE shares his thoughts on radical change as he takes on his new role of CEO at Mayday Trust.

I’ve spent over ten years working with people who are brave and radical in their own lives. Our members at Shared Lives Plus share their own homes and family lives with people to offer and seek support. Over 15,000 people now live good lives as a result, instead of risking being lost within a social care and health system that does not always feel human, caring and respectful. We have built a UK network and organisation which thinks like they do, demonstrating the kind of social change we call for in the way that we work, and in who gets to do that work.

Over the years, I’ve admired Mayday’s work and heard Pat McArdle speak about the radical path that Mayday has taken. Now that Pat has retired from Mayday, I know that I won’t be able to replace or replicate her unique vision and inspirational style, but I hope to have learned from it.

Mayday is an organisation that changed radically because it listened to what people were saying about what Mayday and other organisations were doing, and was prepared to hear some very uncomfortable messages. The support that people were getting when they went through tough times like being homeless, trying to recover from substance misuse, or leaving prison, wasn’t working for lots of people, and it may even have been inadvertently keeping them locked into those tough times and the services and systems built around them. I wrote a book about some of the things I’ve learned from the people involved in Shared Lives, Homeshare and now Family by Family, with the subtitle ‘Escaping the invisible asylum’, because I believe that even though we talk about ‘community’ services, ‘empowerment’, focusing on ‘outcomes’ and so on, the culture and thought-processes which led us to build asylums, workhouses and other institutions is still deeply ingrained in many of our public services.

In Pat’s final blog for Mayday, she writes that there has not been the radical ‘revolution’ in homelessness support she once dreamed of. But there has been change, and there is no doubt in my mind that Mayday has played a role in that change. Not just dreaming of doing things differently, if only there was enough time, enough money or any of the other things we’ll never have enough of, but showing how to do things differently despite those multiple challenges. In other words, putting the idea of a person-led and strength-based response,  which is at the heart of Mayday’s mission, into the way the whole organisation works. Through the New System Alliance, Mayday and its partners are just starting to model that person-led response to drive change and inform an entirely new system. Like many of the people it supports, the organisation has had to come so far already, just in order to take the first step on a brand new journey towards being the hugely impactful organisation and movement for change that I know we can be.

Pat also says something in her final blog which resonates with me deeply: “My time at Mayday has taught me that my view is one of many and the direction to challenge the failing homeless system needs to be led by people who are experiencing it, who are often trapped within it and who want to act.” One challenge for us in the journey to come will be to be as ambitious as allies, as we are as leaders. If we can realise the ambition to impact thousands of lives, with the humility to stay led by people, we will have achieved something truly radical.

Just say no!

Those of a certain age may have memories of the Grange Hill ‘Just say no’ campaign that came out in the 80’s to encourage the youth of the day to just say no to drugs. It was a clear message, sounded simple and made saying no the cool thing to do.

Little did I know how hard it would be to say no to my peers, to funding, to PR opportunities and generally to a traditionally structured work-life a good few decades later!

There’s so much talk these days about being mission-driven or mission-focused. It’s almost taken for granted that in our sector, this drives everything we do. But when your mission is (and I quote Mayday’s mission) ‘to model a Person-led, Transitional and Strength-based (PTS) Response alongside people going through tough times whilst attracting others to change the current deficit-based systems’, this isn’t as easy as it seems.

I remember the Board meeting where our Trustees gave us the clear direction that we were not to exist for existence’s sake and that we would only do work/ accept opportunities that kept us 100% true to our mission. I also remember the long meeting that followed where we unpicked what this would mean in reality. Cue a whole load of uncomfortable and difficult ‘no thank you’s.’

I heard someone say recently that ‘integrity doesn’t win you contracts’ and thought how true this is. But when winning contracts or accepting certain funding or PR opportunities, which require the showcasing of people’s trauma and mean drifting from your mission and sacrificing the fidelity of your work, tough decisions have to be made. This stance results in hard negotiations, handing back work, losing income, staff being TUPE’d or made redundant, people transitioning to other providers and living in a constant state of uncertainty. The human and financial cost of integrity is real and one we always acknowledge and honour.

Respectfully saying ‘thanks, but no thanks’ doesn’t always feel simple, nor does it feel cool.  

We have heard through our ongoing Wisdom Inquiries, most recently Wisdom from the System with the New System Alliance, the raw and unfiltered feelings of people who are stuck in current support systems and services and those who work within them. It’s not an easy read and having the bravery to listen to what is being said and recognise that we have been (and sometimes still are) part of the problem is something that can either keep you up at night, compel you to ignore it or drive you forward. To know that by saying no to the norm, modelling the difference and carving a new path, you are honouring the voices and experiences of people having the toughest of times and moving toward a better system that works for people makes it much easier to bear the brunt. 

I have come to realise that leading systems change through influencing based on what we uncover through our PTS work at the grassroots, is not an easy job, nor one for the faint-hearted. Taking risks that others can’t, choosing to be small and agile over growth, being willing to be unpopular, challenging what is thought of as sector best practice, standing by the voices of people who have felt voiceless and angry requires a whole new level of nuanced understanding and resilience. Both organisationally and personally. 

But upon reflection, saying no to what didn’t fit our mission, actually opened up a whole new world of ‘yeses!’ 

Saying no to delivering traditional deficit-based work meant saying yes to the evolution of a person-led and strength-based response (the PTS) so that people have a more dignified experience and can transition out of their tough times more sustainably.

Saying no to organisational growth for the sake of it or as the expected thing to do meant saying yes to working with like-minded partners to jointly model the PTS and the mission to bring about change in new areas across the UK.

Saying no to deficit-based contracts meant saying yes to working with ‘enlightened’ commissioners and testing the PTS in partnership to inform a new person-led way of commissioning.

Saying no to providing supported housing* and the income that came with it meant saying yes to becoming a small, focused and agile group of social activists all working to shine a light on what works.

Saying no to pouring energy into bringing down the old system meant saying yes to attempting to model a new person-led system alongside a UK wide movement of amazing and passionate people who believe that paradigm shift is possible.

The era of saying no and moving away from the system has brought so much learning as we have been innovative and attractive to funders wanting to test and grow with us. But we’re embarking on a new era, where the reality of trying to survive in this new world longer term is a stark one. The uncertainty of change and the vulnerability of operating outside of the system is ever-present.

This has also led to the daunting reality of what financial stability means when your way of working isn’t prescriptive and continues to evolve and change from one month to the next. There is both a stark reality and real discomfort in putting a price tag on change and where the outcome and path aren’t rigidly set, it can feel like a hard sell. 

Funding innovation only lasts for so long and traditional charitable means of generating income don’t seem to fit when you’re no longer a traditional charity. Working within and outside of a system whilst trying to evolve a new person-led system is a juggle and seeking funding from a system that you are ultimately moving away from can feel counterproductive and difficult to comprehend. Our approach to funding is having to further shift toward new investment opportunities and individuals that allow us to retain our flexibility and authenticity. 

I’m often approached by sector leaders and practitioners asking how they too can transform their organisations as Mayday has and I’ve come to realise that we have been in a unique position to be able to do this. The radical organisational transformation that Mayday has been through may not be easily replicable, palatable or even possible for many organisations who are ultimately trying to bring about systems change as well as survive in a difficult world and within a system that is still a long way from changing! 

But what we have created and what we can provide is something that others can use to point to as an example of what is possible. We have been able to take the risks, be brave and openly and honestly shared the warts and all learning so that others can save, at least some of the pain, of going it alone and starting from scratch.

So maybe saying no is cool after all! It’s certainly, never simple, and it’s amazing to have the conditions, culture and support to show what’s possible when we stand by what we believe in and go where the good energy is! 

I know there will be many more tough decisions and new opportunities to come, and there is no quick win with this scale of systemic change; but with the mission and voices of people guiding everything we do, alongside the support of our amazing allies, we might just get there and be able to continue to take the risks so you don’t have to!

The slowest, who does not lose sight of their mission, is still more rapid than the one who is wondering without one.

Written by Lynn Mumford, Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships at Mayday. Read more like this?

*In 2020 Mayday said ‘no’ to supported housing – find out why here 

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To conclude

The experiences people shared with Mayday were both positive and negative. For some COVID and the response of the organisations involved had resulted in a fresh start, an opportunity for people to move on with their lives. Many people praised the work of key workers and outreach teams for doing their best in an impossible situation and offering people a human connection, reassurance and advice.

However, for many people, COVID-19 was another example of the system failing to work. People shared anger, disappointment and despair at the situation. But people weren’t surprised. People expressed that feeling out of control, scared, and isolated is the norm for many people experiencing homelessness and COVID-19 didn’t change anything.

One of the most common themes throughout these conversations was the difference in experience between those who stayed in hotels during lockdown and those who were moved into hostels. When people were provided with their own space, security and a bit of stability in hotels many felt able to look towards the future. Whilst people staying in hostels appeared to be exhausted and overwhelmed by their living situation, many feeling they had no choice but to return to the streets, or that it was inevitable.

We heard how people appreciated the efforts of those who work in the system, making a difference where they can and doing some great work, clearly, a huge amount of work was done very suddenly when lockdown hit. Paradoxically while grateful to their key workers, many people then went on to explain what their key worker couldn’t do or what they had to do (which the person often didn’t want or need) because of the system, seeming to understand the rules of the system and how it restricted what was on offer.

Padlock on rusty door

8 of 8 Communication

“The word ‘lockdown’ terrified me. I was trapped for so long in an abusive relationship before, it was too much.”

The language used around the pandemic caused a lot of fear, confusion and often prejudice. It was also apparent that the communication with outreach teams throughout lockdown was hugely important, and for some was often the only direct source of help and advice.

Many people Mayday spoke to had previously experienced abusive and violent relationships, others had spent time in prison. This meant when the term lockdown was introduced people were fearful for what it meant. One woman the team spoke to share how she felt she needed to get as far away as possible, but due to her situation, she had nowhere to go. She became paranoid, avoiding her friends, and a lot of anxiety around her past experiences resurfaced.

English was not the first language for many of the people the team spoke to, leading to confusion over the key messages around the pandemic. Some people doubted the seriousness of the situation, while others were left panicked and confused. Two individuals explained that they were classified as having ‘no recourse to public funds’ and had been turned away by charities.

“They say they can’t help me. I worked for cash before Coronavirus, I got by. Now there’s no work, they say they’re not allowed to help me, there’s no money.”

Messaging used by the media, government and sometimes charities meant that people often felt judged for being on the street, when in most cases people felt that it was their only option.

“They don’t know how much pressure they’re putting on us, how it feels. Sometimes I just want to scream – I probably could you know and no one would notice. The Government have no idea.”

On multiple occasions people shared that when they had come into contact with outreach teams they were supportive, offering help and listening to any concerns. People sympathised that teams were busy, and services were not being run as normal due to the pandemic. However, at times the lack of capacity meant misinformation was passed on or there were inconsistencies in the team connecting with people.

“They were nice, they gave me suggestions on safer places to sleep, told me where I could get a shower, a free sleeping bag, and maybe even accommodation. I thought things were going to be okay at that point.”

7 of 8 Home

“I was given temporary accommodation, but I feel isolated. I was getting depressed. I’m not used to four walls, it was uncomfortable. I come out here, it’s my home.”

Some people told us that they wanted to stay outside when the ‘Everyone In’ policy was implemented. By staying on the streets there was a sense of familiarity, they were able to connect with people they knew and felt less isolated. People spoke of feeling cared for by those who worked or lived around them and they felt safe.

“They gave me a room in a hotel. It was miles away. I was lonely, everyone I know is here. I didn’t know what was going on, how long I was going to be there, so I came back here. It’s quieter, less noise than before.”

Many people referred to the streets as their homes. This was not seen as a positive thing, but instead, they struggled to see the benefits of moving into temporary accommodation, only to end up back where they started.

“I’m 60 years old and I’ve been sleeping on the streets for 20 years, about 10 of those years have been on this street – It’s my home. It’s what I know.”

“I do know a few people that didn’t want to go inside. Being on the street is a desperate thing, it’s not a choice.”

For many people Westminster was not their home, they had found themselves here due to not being able to access the right support in their area. People wanted to start a new life and a new identity away from the homelessness ‘community’. They wanted to be seen as people, instead of homeless and to have a home, rather than a case file.

“I lived in Leicester, I was in an abusive relationship, no one would help me they said I didn’t have a local connection. I came here, they said the same. I just want a home.”

6 of 8 Employment or a home

“I was told I couldn’t work while I was living in the hostel, if I did my benefits would stop. I just want to get a job and be normal again.”

A number of people spoke of being let go from their work as they were on temporary contracts or working for cash in hand and therefore had no right to the government’s furlough scheme. Many also spoke of the desire to work again but there were multiple barriers preventing them from doing this, with some people being told not to work as this will have an impact on benefits that can be claimed for housing.

“I was only on a five month contract, I was due to get a permanent one but then corona happened and now they’re shut…I’ve contacted 60 companies in the last 5 months, nobody answers. They all say sorry we don’t need staff. There are no jobs. Before Coronavirus I had to say no to people, they were always calling me about jobs.”

“I used to be a recovery worker, I was even on the board of a recovery unit. I’ve had loads of jobs, got loads of skills, used to have loads of responsibilities. I could easily work again, but it’s catch 22 as no tenancy no job, no job not tenancy.”

COVID itself has acted as the biggest barrier with the number of jobs available dramatically reduced due to businesses having to shut or reduce their staff teams. The lack of internet access to search and apply for jobs was also highlighted as well as the lack of funds to purchase suitable interview clothing or work attire if they were to get work.

“I can get jobs, but I need access to the internet and clothes for work. I can’t get internet access anymore and I need that to even ask the JobCentre for help. If I had a CSCS card I could work in construction.”

Even though many people did want to work the cost of living is too high to make it worthwhile leaving people wondering what the incentive is to work compared to remaining on benefits.

“I spoke to my boss and asked if I could have redundancy, they won’t give me it…If I wasn’t working it would be easier as benefit could pay and I could get a place, because I’m on payroll I have to pay so it’s harder to get somewhere. I wish they would do this, to me it’s more important to have a place than a job. Once I have a place I can get a job in the future.”

“I’ve got to think about things like travel and council tax to know whether it’s worth going back to work…I calculated I would have needed to earn at least £30,000 to live comfortably, there is no incentive to go back to work it’s ridiculous how much you get charged for things.”

The negative impact that not being able to work on people’s mental wellbeing was evident with the lack of options causing stress and fear over ending up back living on the streets.

“If I can’t get a job, I will have no money which is not good, I don’t want to be back on the streets…I liked when I was in the hotel before because I had the internet, I could send emails for jobs.”

5 of 8 Family

“He was my only family, my friend. They wouldn’t let me take him with me. I was scared. I had to give him up. Now I’m alone.”

A number of people we had conversations with spoke about the importance of family to them but this wasn’t always a biological connection, they also spoke fondly of dogs who provided them with companionship and love, and friends on the street who they cared for greatly. Those who mentioned their dogs had different circumstances, one person was living with theirs in a hostel, another had to give up their dog to get into accommodation and another spoke of their grief for their beloved dog who had recently been hit by a car and passed away.

“I can’t get my life back on track while I am in temporary accommodation, I had to give up my dog to stay here.  I got my dog after I tried to commit suicide and he was an emotional help to me, it was hard to give him up, I don’t know how much longer I can be here for now that my application to be made a priority has been declined.”

“I have my dog right here with me, she’s like a daughter to me.”

“She wasn’t a dog, she was family.”  

A number of people talked about their children and other family members and the difficulty of not being able to see or stay in touch with them during COVID due to the expense of phone credit and not having access to the internet as a result of services being closed.

“I’m alone, all my family’s in Italy. I’m on benefit right now £80 a week, imagine spending £36 on the phone to speak to family and the rest is for food.”

The accommodation where people were placed were often not suitable to have children visiting and people hoped for a time they would be able to have a safe home for their children to stay.

“I have a 5 year old daughter, I want to be there for her in her formative years but finding it difficult.  I have a good relationship with my ex but I can’t have her around here for days when there are drunks and people taking drugs in the corridor, this is no place for a child.“

“I’m in The Passage now, trying to get a studio flat. I want my 2 daughters to be able to visit. That’s the dream, I take each day as it comes. I’ve got a vivid picture in my head but it feels like it’s going to be slow.”