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The Change Makers: How to Create Better Lives

We want our listeners to understand how exceptional individuals from different backgrounds have set out to make social change.

In this exciting new podcast series, Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett (@SirTomHH) interviews founders of charities, social businesses and social movements, highlighting the wonderful work being done right here in the UK.

After a successful business career, Tom left the financial sector to become Chair of Marie Curie. He has led the government review on charitable giving, founded two successful charities and backed many others, some of which failed. The charity founder he admires most is his wife - founder of Smart Works.  

Working with four of the country's leading charitable foundations, The National Lottery Community Fund, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Fore and Suffolk Community Foundation; The Change Makers identified fifty founders from eighteen year old to eighty year olds, from north to south, from health to ornithology.  

Listen to find out - Why did they do it? What skills do you need? Will your obsession cause you happiness or great pain? Can you afford to do this? Will the state be your friend? Are funders saints or exasperating? How do you hand on your charity to somebody else? Do you need a business plan? Should you fly solo or find a friend as your cofounder who has complimentary skills to your own? 

These and many other topics form the basis of fascinating, serious, and often humorous stories.

You will enjoy whoever you are, but if you are thinking of starting to create social change, you can listen to those who have been there before you - pitfalls are flagged and handy tips shared. We hope you enjoy the ride.

Meet Juliet Hughes-Hallett, founder of Smart Works and our host Tom Hughes-Hallet, founder of Helpforce and the Marshall Institute 

THH portrait

In this episode we meet our host Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett who will talk with Lady Juliet Hughes-Hallett, his wife and inspiration; co-founder of Smart Works, a UK based charity that provides high quality interview clothes and interview training to unemployed women in need.

Link to episode 1


Ed Fidoe, founder of School21 and The London Interdisciplinary School


This week we meet Ed Fidoe who in his twenties decided to create a school that had an entirely different approach to education, hence he established School21, where children did things differently, develop skills and attributes that went beyond what was tested in exams, including speaking skills, craftmanship, grit and spark. 

Link to episode 2


Dame Stephanie Shirley, founder of Shirley Foundation (and others)


This week Sir Tom talks with Dame Stephanie Shirley who arrived in Britain as an unaccompanied child refugee in 1939 from Nazi Germany on the kinder transport. She started what became Xansa plc (now part of the Sopra Group) on her dining room table with £6 in 1962. She is now a successful IT entrepreneur, serial charity founder and ardent philanthropist. She established Shirley Foundation and co-founded the Oxford Internet Institute.

Link to episode 3 


Marcellus Baz, founder of Switch-Up


In this episode we meet Marcellus Baz. Born and raised in Nottingham, Marcellus grew up to become a product of his surroundings. Involved in gang activity from his youth, Marcellus spent much of his time running from the law and dealing with the consequences of his lifestyle. Throught the deaths of loved ones including his best friend, a moment of chance changed Marcellus’s life forever. When he was avoiding the police and found himself in a leisure centre boxing class, supported by the coach, Marcellus reformed his life through learning to box and now in a similar way he is reforming lives of others through Switch-Up.

Link to episode 4 

Sophia Parker, founder of Little Village

Sophia Baz

In this episode Sir Tom talks to Sophia Parker, who founded a very successful charity Little Village while looking after three children under six. Little Village is a "food bank", but for clothes toys and equipment for babies and children up to the age of five. Last year alone they supported 7,281 children.

Link to episode 5


Geoff Stevens, founder of Pathways Care Farm

Geoff Stevens

In this episode, we meet Geoff Stevens, who inspired by his faith and his father's dementia founded Pathways Care Farm, which gives vulnerable people the opportunity to learn, re-build and grow through a range of hands-on farming activities. This might include planting, fruit and vegetable cultivation, helping to restore a barn, animal husbandry or even the basics of machinery maintenance.

Link to episode 6 


Sister Mary Joy Langdon, founder of The Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre

Sister Mary Joy

In episode seven we listen to the extraordinary story of Sister Mary Joy as she moves from being Europe’s first female professional firewoman to being a jockey, a nun and then a Change Maker. Sister Mary Joy established The Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre which provides riding and equine therapy for children with special needs and people with dementia.

Link to episode 7


Nick O'Shea, founder of Ignition Brewery 

Nick O'Shea Cover

In episode eight we meet a part-time Change Maker Nick O’Shea who besides being Chief Economist for Centre for Mental Health also runs Ignition Brewery, a brewery employing people with learning disabilities, involved in all aspects of the business from brewing and bottling to selling and product promotion.

Link to episode 8


Sarah Anderson CBE, founder of the Listening Place 

Sarah Anderson

In this episode we meet a founder of the Listening Place, a charity where a team of trained volunteers offer free, confidential and ongoing face-to-face listening, by appointment, to people who feel that life is no longer worth living. The organisation sees 4000 people a year. Sarah started the charity in her 60's and is a living proof that it is never too late to start a charity that Creates Better Lives. 

Link to episode 9 


Sat Singh, founder of the Renaissance Foundation

Sat reneissance

Our next Change Maker Sat Singh started the Renaissance Foundation following personal experiences in his youth. The Renaissance Foundation offers a 3-year tailored outreach programme which aims to inspire, and support disadvantaged young people facing barriers to education, work, and fulfilment.

Listen to epiosde 10


Dame Laura Lee, founder of Maggie's 

Dame Laura Lee

In this episode Sir Tom introduces us to Dame Laura Lee,who leads a charity - Maggie's, that cares for those living with cancer. Maggie's was a vision of Maggie Keswick Jencks, who lived with advanced cancer for two years and whose vision became a reality thanks to Dame Laura, Maggie’s nurse and friend.

Listen to episode 11


Rory Moore, founder of Coronavirus Community Volunteering (CCV Global) 

Rory Moore

Rory Moore is our next Change Maker. Rory is an LSE student who, in the challenging times of the pandemic, founded Coronavirus Community Volunteering (CCV Global) supporting people in their local communities. The charity has now spread all around the world with help of Rory's fellow students.

Listen to episode 12


Junior Smart OBE, founder of St Giles Trust

Junior Smart

In this episode of The Change Makers we meet an inspiring youth leader Junior Smart, who on release from prison set up the SOS Project, London’s largest gangs' ex-offenders exit programme and a charity St Giles Trust. Junior talks about his personal experience and failings of the penal system.

Listen to episode 13


Dame Ester Rantzen, founder of Childline and The Silver Line


In the new episode of The Change Makers, Sir Tom introduces us to Dame Esther Rantzen, who following her career as a successful broadcaster, created two charities: Childline promoting child protection  and The Silver Line UK combating loneliness in older people's lives.

Listen to episode 14


Brad Gudger, founder of Alike


In episode fifteen of The Change Makers we meet Brad Gudger whose personal experience with cancer has given him an asset and skills to create a charity Alike to support and guide other people diagnosed with cancer.

Listen to episode 15


Sophie Humphreys OBE, founder of Pause & SHiFT

Sophie Humphreys

In the second last episode of the first series of #TheChangeMakers, Sir Tom meets with Sophie Humphreys OBE, founder and driver of two charities: Pause, focusing on the wellbeing of children taken into care and SHiFT, a charity enabling children & young people to escape the destructive cycles of crime.

Listen to episode 16


Fiona Ellis & Clare Wilson, founders of Survivors in Transition 

Fiona and Clare

“Survivors feel different to other people, like they don’t fit in, whereas here they meet each other and they connect...” In the last episode of the Change Makers Sir Tom meets Fiona Ellis and Clare Wilson, founders of Survivors in Transition helping survivors of sexual abuse.

Listen to episode 17