In 1986, RESULTS UK was launched and the first campaign group got started soon after in Macclesfield. Father and son duo Jay and Sanjay have been dedicated members of the Macclesfield group (now known as the Cheshire group) for years and continue to be an active part of the grassroots network. To celebrate 35 years of RESULTS UK and in the run up to the National Conference, we have a chat with Sanjay about his campaigning and involvement with RESULTS. But first, take a moment to watch and listen to Sanjay’s poem...
Ruthie: Your poem is a really moving and powerful reflection of campaigning, and what we do at RESULTS. Can you tell us a bit about why you wrote it?
Sanjay: Awww thank you! I wrote it to give a flavour of what we do – the campaigns we work on, activities such as meeting decision makers, writing to MPs and the media, giving a sense of progress and hope - but mainly it was to show the difference we make. Specifically, the difference I can make and the power I have to influence decision makers and be a voice for those who are less fortunate than I am.
Ruthie: You've been a dedicated campaigner for many years; what has made you want to keep going over all that time?
Sanjay: I wrote my first letter to my MP aged 11 I think it was, because my Dad, Jay was involved with RESULTS UK and we had meetings at our home. Dad got involved in 1987 when Results was being run out of Sheila’s front room in Wilmslow. I think RESULTS UK was barely one year old at that point. Immunisation was a massive campaign at that time, when 40,000 children were dying every day from preventable causes. That number is close to 16,000 nowadays I think.
I stayed involved as I was growing up. I’ll be honest – up until my early to mid 20s, I campaigned because I felt I should, not because I wanted to. It was what I’d always done and it was a good thing, and the right thing. My involvement was pretty flaky and half hearted towards the end of that period as a result.
And then a couple of things happened. I saw the video for Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror and also read the Marianne Williamson quote “Our deepest fear” – both at a RESULTS event. I decided that yes, I was committed to the work of RESULTS – because I wanted to do it (not because I should) and I wanted to make a difference. I chose to step up and that’s when I noticed things started to change.
The Marianne Williamson’s quote reads, “There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (See full quote).
A big thing was the relationship my Dad had with our MP, Sir Nicholas Winterton, who was a Conservative MP and wasn’t really interested in international development. Over many years, he changed a lot – so much so that he would send us copies of parliamentary questions he’d asked at debates, without us asking him to do so. He’d moved from being dutiful to being proactive, and acknowledged Dad saying ‘this guy has been drip-feeding me for years.’
I saw the difference we were making.
The campaign wins kept on coming – every year millions of pounds of funding for TB, or microcredit, or education, or some policy changes – all based on our campaigns. We worked on issues other NGOs weren’t working on. Not everyone ‘got’ the RESULTS model – other organisations weren’t set up that way. That’s changed now! And the wins keep on coming even today. I also pushed myself more as well – I had letters published in The Independent, Guardian, Sunday Times and the Financial Times. I led fundraising events that raised thousands for RESULTS.
I could see how by shining my light – as Marianne Williamson put it – I gave people permission to do the same.
Dad and I also knew for the health of the group, we needed to grow and develop more leaders. Then Ricci and Karen came along and after a little while, they agreed to take over and they have done an amazing job of driving and growing the group. I still feel privileged that I am able to campaign for RESULTS and that I’m part of something much bigger than me, that is helping me to shine my light and to smile when I look at myself – the Man in the Mirror.
Ruthie: The RESULTS National Conference is coming up in September. As a longstanding member of the network, you've attended a few of our previous National Conferences and it'd be great to hear some of your memories from them. Do you have any particular highlights?
Sanjay: I remember a time when we had a film crew come in and we practiced talking in front of the camera. That was a really fun session – totally scary and outside of our comfort zones, but we were all in it together! Similarly for talking on the radio – we spent time practising talking about RESULTS and being interviewed. We’ve also role-played being awkward to really have fun with it!! We’ve had some amazing guests – such as Nobel Peace Prize Winner Professor Muhammad Yunus from the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, when we were campaigning on microcredit.
The biggest highlight was - and still is - meeting everyone in the network and spending time together. The realisation that my letter really makes a difference because everyone in the room has also written a similar letter. The encouragement and acknowledgement we receive from the guest speakers who are astounded and amazed at what we – the grassroots volunteers – do month after month. You can’t help but be inspired and re-energised by the network because let’s face it, it takes a certain type of person to be up for this huge, daunting and seemingly impossible (to the outside world) challenge.
Ruthie: Thanks, Sanjay!
Thank you to all our amazing volunteers who, like Sanjay, take action and speak up on issues they care about. If you’d like to hear amazing speakers, learn campaigning skills and get together with others in the network, come along to our National Conference on 11-12 September. It’s free and online, and although there won’t be any film crews or tea and biscuits this time, there’s a great line-up of varied sessions and chances to interact with other attendees through our conference website. Register here.
To find out more about being a RESULTS volunteer, check out our welcome pack.