Inspirational Volunteers: Stephen's Story
Stephen Hayes, age 63, lives in Glasgow. He is married to
Shivonne and they have a son, Sean aged 13 and a daughter, Clare
"I was raised very close to Liverpool's docks, which brought
sailors from all over the world and this, together with my father's
tales of war service in Burma, made me aware of countries overseas
with needs far different to our own.
Holiday jobs in a large local hospital gave me an interest in
helping others and from the start I was eager to share information
with overseas health management students. As moderator of the
International Health Management MA at London's South Bank
Polytechnic, I would host overseas students for spells of
management experience at the various hospitals I was involved with
in the UK.
In 1994, a post in NHS management brought me to Scotland. Here
we formed a link with a hospital in Kathmandu to enable their
nurses to train in our high dependency unit. This is when I felt a
deeper engagement with the developing world and moved with my
family to Karachi to manage a not-for-profit primary health care
company in Pakistan. This involved running a network of 120
maternal and child health care centres and 11 hospitals, with a
special focus on the remote area of North Pakistan, close to
borders with China and Afghanistan.
This strong relationship with Pakistan continued when I returned
to Scotland in 2002 to work in international consultancy around
health management. Through my work, I have been privileged to work
in a broad range of countries including Nigeria, Kenya and
Tajikistan. This gave me an acute awareness of the health and
associated issues, of women and children especially, in
disadvantaged parts of the world.
It was during this time that I became aware of Shared Interest.
International aid strikes me as important but still fails to
address the issue of sustainability. This is why I was immediately
attracted to Shared Interest; the focus is ultimately on supporting
the development of fair trade enterprises and co-operatives in low
income countries. I support their aim of encouraging businesses and
therefore communities to become economically stable on a long term
Shared Interest is an innovative concept in that it goes far
beyond charitable giving in using an individual's savings - which
may be needed again one day but can be put to good use in the
interim -to finance fair trade businesses that may not be able to
find financial support elsewhere. I was also drawn to the
organisation's ethical basis, and mutual principles in being a
co-operative, along with its transparency.
The idea of becoming a voluntary ambassador for Shared Interest
was attractive because I am sure there are so many people of
goodwill in the UK who would readily become investors but haven't
yet heard of the organisation. Being an ambassador is rewarding in
that not only is the cause worthy but the message is almost always
received with courtesy and intrigue.
By giving talks, manning stalls at events and through personal
contact, I continue to help promote Shared Interest in west central
Scotland, while also continuing my consultancy and getting involved
in other aspects of the fair trade movement here.
Shared Interest has strong support here in Scotland in terms of
investment but I would like to grow the volunteer network in my
local area. My own involvement has been stalled slightly due to
returning to Pakistan for three years in 2008. Now that I am back,
I look forward to being able to start to meet occasionally with
other volunteers as a Glasgow-based group. This means that we work
together in encouraging others to invest in a fairer world; whether
it be their time or their money or both."