‘We will do whatever it takes’

John Caudwell first started selling mobile phones, it took him nine months to sell 26 handsets – at a price of £2,000 each.

But he had faith that mobile phones would become an essential part of our lives, and by 2006 the mobile phone retailer he founded, Phones 4U, was selling 26 phones a minute.

Thanks to following that intuition, Caudwell, 68, now has a personal fortune of $3.1bn after completing the sale of his interests in the firm in 2011.

And he has pledged to give at least 70 per cent of his wealth away during and after his lifetime, signing the Giving Pledge, a promise made by the ultra wealthy to focus their attention on philanthropy.

In his pledge Caudwell, who was brought up in Stoke-on-Trent, stated: “Philanthropy gives me far more pleasure and satisfaction than making money.

“In fact, making money is now largely driven by the knowledge that I will be able to leave even more wealth behind for charitable causes when I go.”

A large part of his giving is focused on Caudwell Children, the charity he set up in 2000 to support and improve the lives of disabled children and their families.

Caudwell personally pays all the charity’s running and managerial costs, meaning all donations and grants are received directly by those who need them.

They have so far helped more than 50,000 children and families and provided services worth more than £45m.

The charity’s most recent initiative involves funding and providing autism assessments, feedback and 12 months post-diagnostic support for children aged between 4 and 11 who have been referred by a teacher or healthcare professional.

State-funded assessments can currently take more than 18 months to complete, leaving families and children without vital support.

Commenting on the new initiative Caudwell Children CEO, Trudi Beswick, said: “Waiting times for autism assessments are all too often unacceptably long, with parents regularly waiting 18 months or more for a diagnosis.

“We launched the Caudwell Children Autism Service to support our stretched statutory services and reduce waiting times to evidence that there is a quicker, more efficient and effective way to support families through this important process.

“Thanks to funding from several donors over the last six months we are now delighted to be able to offer our assessment, diagnosis and support service to new referrals at zero cost for a limited time and we welcome referrals from families across the UK.”

For more information see the Caudwell Children website or follow them on Twitter.



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Doubly sustainable denim sofas

Giving new life to old denim, Ikea has partnered with Dutch circular textiles company MUD Jeans. Together they have launched a new Klippan sofa, 40 per cent of which is furnished with recycled denim. 

By incorporating used jeans into the sofa cover, the manufacturers save 27,000 litres of water and reduce the carbon footprint of each product by 67 per cent. 

“Offering new sofa covers made from recycled materials, we can help customers to renew their sofa and reuse materials,” said Piotr Jakubiak, a deployment leader at Ikea, Sweden. “We are happy to work together with MUD Jeans to make the Klippan sofa cover with recycled denim.”

Each sofa cover uses the equivalent of two pairs of jeans. The product will be available for purchase in Ikea stores across the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France, and Italy.


Producing within the planet’s limits

Made from cotton and synthetic dyes, denim usually takes a heavy toll on the environment. The production of just one pair of jeans, using contemporary techniques, requires 1500 gallons of water. To add to this, metal accessories often make denim wear difficult to recycle. 

The European denim market alone sees about 500 million sales in pairs of jeans every year. On average, each European owns seven pairs of jeans, two of which are never worn. 

But the worst is that most owners discard their unused jeans rather than sending them to charity shops. This means they end up in landfill or are incinerated. The material from less than one per cent of this waste is transformed into new clothing.

Brands such as Levi’s and H&M are only just starting to promote denim reuse. The retailers are switching to partly recycled collections, environmentally-friendly dyes and technology to reduce water waste. 

MUD Jeans offers an alternative source of eco-conscious clothing, produced under ethical working standards and without as much waste. They use 92 per cent less water than average denim companies and every pair of jeans produced is recycled into new clothing. 

Leading Ikea’s drive to steer the company in a direction that incorporates planetary limits is Malin Nordin, head of circular development at Inter Ikea Group. She said: “Ikea wants to grow within the boundaries of the planet. We believe all materials are valuable and should not be wasted. 

“By joining forces with MUD Jeans, we can work together to secure new sources of recycled materials, and develop products using post-consumer materials such as recycled jeans. By working together, we are exploring ways to minimize waste and reduce our impact on the planet.”

The Klippan sofa is just the first in a series of recycled products that will emerge from the partnership. 

Find the Klippan sofa here.

For more information and to shop MUD Jeans visit



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‘We’re all in it together’

As a small, newly-formed organisation, the Saleem Foundation was an unlikely winner at the Charity Film Awards, 2020. However, the fundraising charity came out on top for the People’s Choice awards category for organisations with a turnover of up to £10,000. We spoke to their founder, Shaz Saleem about how the charity has progressed since then.

“Just to be considered for an award was an honour,” he reflected. “The Charity Film Awards does so much great work giving smaller groups such as ourselves an opportunity to reach a wider audience and get our film out there.”

Campaign director for the Charity Film Awards Madeleine Johnson applauded the foundation for their success: “The sheer number of votes they got was outstanding, which was particularly testament to their ability to mobilise supporters on social media.”

Ending the struggle of silence

The film they submitted, The Silent Pain, told the story of how mental health issues often go unnoticed. It ends on the message that ‘It’s okay not to be okay’, and encourages viewers to talk about their problems.

Launched in 2017, the charity tackles issues such as poor mental health, domestic abuse and breast cancer by sourcing grants for grassroots groups combating these problems.

Shaz established the group following the loss of his grandfather, when he experienced a distressing period of declining mental health. 

He said: “I didn’t seek help because at the time I actually felt embarrassed. I thought nobody would understand because I felt that I was meant to be a strong person and so I couldn’t speak up about it.”

The Silent Pain directly confronts such feelings by empowering people to share their experiences with others rather than struggling in isolation.

Shaz explained: “I’ve realised that the film has helped so many people come out after seeing the film, to talk about the issues and try to work through their problems.”

One year later…

After the success of their first film, the foundation went on to produce a second one dealing with domestic abuse called, The Hidden Scars. As with their previous cinematographic creation, it has helped people to open up and discuss the issues they face and received coverage from the BBC. 

“It assisted a lot of people that again, were scared to come out and talk about their experiences. These included people with children, who felt that if they raised concerns they might lose their kids.”

Reflecting on the power of both films he added: “The most important message that I learned from producing these films is, it’s okay not to be okay, but we need to believe that we can get through this together. Because we’re all in it together.”

For more information or to support the Saleem Foundation contact them via [email protected] or 07786196666.



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Kew Gardens commit to climate positive

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, one of the country’s leading gardens, have released a manifesto for change committing to become climate positive by 2030.

Rather than simply reach net zero for their carbon emissions the next decade, the organisation intends to go further and have a positive impact.

Leaders plan to rapidly reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint and use its trusted voice, alongside a workforce of leading plant scientists and network of global partnerships, to call for the change needed to tackle the environmental emergency.

The organisation, which has bases in London, Sussex and Madagascar, will seek to reduce emissions as rapidly as possible and more-than-offset any unavoidable emissions by investing in nature-based carbon sinks.

Director of RBG Kew, Richard Deverell, explained: “This new strategy and commitment to be climate positive by 2030 is the culmination of many years of work.

“Tackling the environmental emergency must sit at the very heart of everything we do and as a global plant science institution and visitor attraction we have a unique responsibility to act now.

“Failing to take urgent action will cost us severely and will leave us unprepared for the unprecedented challenges of the decades to come. This is just the start of a journey in which we will all need to play our part.”

Kew intends to make several changes to their operations, including generating renewable energy from solar panels on the roof of the Millennium Seed Bank in Sussex, and upgrading the two Kew Explorer vehicles on site at Kew Gardens to 100% electric power.

Other actions include Installing the first net-zero-ready electric heat pump at Kew Gardens and eliminating the vast majority of single-use plastic from food and drink outlets.

Rachel Purdon, Head of Sustainability at RBG Kew added: “The environmental emergency requires more rapid and significant changes to the way we do things at Kew, at home, and across society.

“We cannot do this alone.  We want everyone to share the urgency and the commitment to change that underpins our ambitious new strategy.

“Cross-sector partnerships and collaborations are vital, as is the engagement and action of our supporters and visitors in bringing about the change we desperately need to see to save our planet.”

For more information visit Kew’s website or follow them on Twitter.



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Eli Broad donated $2.8bn to good causes

The son of Lithuanian immigrants who settled in Detroit, Eli Broad worked as a delivery driver and door to door salesman to fund his tuition at Michigan State University.

And Broad, who died in April 2021 aged 87, maximised the opportunities it gave him, leaving behind a fortune of almost $6.9bn.

But it was his support of good causes which became his enduring legacy, after he donated $2.8bn during his lifetime to causes linked to education, arts and science through the foundation he set up with his wife Edythe.

Paying tribute to Broad, Gerun Riley the president of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation said: “As a businessman Eli saw around corners, as a philanthropist he saw the problems in the world and tried to fix them, as a citizen he saw the possibility in our shared community, and as a husband, father and friend he saw the potential in each of us,”

A talented entrepreneur, Broad co-founded building firm Kaufman and Broad in 1957, which went on to become one of America’s largest house building firms. He then bought Sun Life Insurance, transforming it into financial services firm SunAmerica, which he sold for $18bn in stock in 1999.

The Broad foundation was set up in 1984 so Eli and his wife Edythe could make sure causes they supported could progress and thrive.

The couple joined the Giving Pledge – an organisation set up to help the ultra wealthy give away their money – in 2010. On signing they stated: “Those who have been blessed with extraordinary wealth have an opportunity, some would say a responsibility—we consider it a privilege—to give back to their communities, be they local, national or global.

“Though neither of us was raised in an affluent family, our parents taught both of us the importance of giving back and helping others less fortunate.”

As part of their commitment to philanthropy the Broads founded the Broad Art Foundation, an art lending library which has supported 500 museums to exhibit 8,500 artworks, and in 2020 they donated $136m to various causes, including Covid 19 testing for students and voter education initiatives.

In 2020 they also supported hundreds of school pupils in Los Angeles to learn more about science, technology, engineering and maths by offering virtual lessons with experts from a range of museums, zoos, gardens and universities across the city.

Commenting on the project Gerun Riley, the foundation’s president, said: “The Broad Foundation is proud to support the expansion of STEM education in L.A. so our youth can further develop skills and gain experiences that will help prepare them to beneficially participate in a new and rapidly shifting economy.”

To find out more visit the Broad Foundation’s website or follow them on Twitter.



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‘Truly inspiring science’

A pioneering tech firm who grow cotton in laboratories is to feature in a new exhibition showcasing the cutting-edge brands and innovations shaping the sustainable future of fashion.

Biotech firm GALY will be featured, alongside dozens of other sustainable fashion disruptors, in the GROW exhibition at the Fashion for Good Museum in Amsterdam.

GALY scientists create cotton in labs through the multiplication of cells directly into the cotton fibre, removing many of the steps of traditional cotton farming.

By producing cotton from cells in a lab instead of on huge farms, they are able to grow the same fibre without being dependent on soil and weather conditions, and without exhausting the planet.

The method is 10 times faster and uses 80% less water and land, while emitting only a fraction of the greenhouse gas compared to conventional cotton.

Paula Elbl, founder and CSO of GALY says: “We’re proud to be showcased within the GROW Expo. The future of agriculture is cellular, and this is a great opportunity to share truly inspiring science with the public, allowing visitors to be taken on an incredible journey when they sign up for the tour from anywhere in the world.

“Many of our planet’s largest challenges can be solved by looking for solutions found in nature, and the intersection where technology and nature meet is our sweet spot.

“We’re a biotechnology company and our goal is to restore all industries that have a toxic supply chain, starting with cotton. The fashion industry directs others, inaugurating new practices, processes and values. Cotton is just the beginning for us.”

The exhibition will be both in-person and online, and visitors can learn about the fast-growing movement of biomaterials in fashion, which are used by both high street retailers and luxury brands.

Gwen Boon, museum manager at Fashion for Good said: “We’re delighted to have GALY as part of our GROW exhibition.

“Their trailblazing innovation showcases how the power of science can be harnessed to create the biomaterials of the future that have a positive impact on both the fashion and agricultural industries.”

For more information see the Fashion for Good museum website, or follow GALY on Twitter.



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Tech pioneer gives away $5.15bn

When Gordon Moore co-founded hardware giant Intel in 1968 he was already viewed as a pioneer in the tech industry.

A decade earlier he had broken away from a firm led by Nobel prizewinner Bill Shockley to start his own business, and his prediction that computer processing power would double every year became an insight known as “Moore’s Law”, which still informs the industry today.

His successes in the field of computer science led to Moore, 92, amassing a fortune of more than $11bn, half of which he plans to give away during his lifetime.

Together with wife Betty, Moore set up a philanthropic foundation in 2001 to use his wealth for good. The California-based couple stated their goals were to use their wealth to bring positive change, and Moore said on setting up the foundation: “Betty and I established the Foundation because we believe it can make a significant and positive impact in the world.

“We want the Foundation to tackle large, important issues at a scale where it can achieve significant and measurable impacts.”

The foundation awards grants worth $270m each year, and focuses on causes related to science, the environment and education.

Earlier this year the foundation committed $190.5m to supporting promising scientists up to 10 years into their career, to allow them to spend time on research, discovery and inventions as opposed to spending valuable hours applying for grants.

Robert Kirshner, the foundation’s chief programme officer for Science explained: “Our current system forces creative people to spend valuable time repeatedly applying for grants just at the point where they should be sprinting forward.”

The project will focus on researchers in astrophysics, experimental physics and geophysics. The grant will also fund conferences to allow scientists to network, exchange ideas and foster collaboration that will lead to insightful experiments and new discoveries.

To find out more visit the foundation’s website or follow them on Twitter.



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Philanthropist funds good causes in Africa

When Strive Masiyiwa and his family fled to Zambia to escape the turmoil in Zimbabwe – then known as Rhodesia – in 1968, he was just seven years old.

Now aged 60, and after battling the Mugabe regime for years to be allowed to expand his telecoms business, he was named this weekend as Britain’s first black billionaire.

Masiyiwa was educated at school in Edinburgh and at university in Cardiff, but headed back to Zimbabwe to set up an engineering firm. He decided to expand into the rapidly growing field of mobile phones but was blocked by the state’s leadership.

After a five-year battle which left him almost bankrupt, Masiyiwa won but moved to South Africa.

In addition to his telecoms empire, his other business interests include stakes in mobile phone networks in Burundi and Lesotho, and investments in financial services and power distribution firms in Africa.

In 2010 Masiyiwa, a father of six, and his family moved to London, and together with wife Tsitsi he founded the Higherlife Foundation aimed at improving lives and prosperity across five countries in Africa.

The Masiyiwas, now worth £1bn, have donated millions of pounds to good causes through the foundation, including £50m to fight cholera.

One of their most recent projects helped young children in Zimbabwe to continue with remote learning while schools were closed during lockdown.

More than 65,000 youngsters at the foundation stage of learning were affected, and the foundation helped to fund initiatives including a bespoke textbook, online learning for those able to take part, and recorded videos and voice notes from teachers for those unable to attend live sessions.

Masiyiwa is also the African Union special envoy on vaccines and is leading the drive to get Africa’s 1.3billion population vaccinated against Covid 19.

To find out more visit the Higherlife Foundation’s website or follow them on Twitter.



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Giving the gift of yoga to others

A yoga charity is hosting a series of outdoor sessions on the seafront in Brighton to raise funds for their community outreach project aimed at helping everyone enjoy the benefits of yoga.

Teachers from the Brighton Yoga Foundation will be holding classes on the deck of the city’s British Airways i360 viewing tower, which has beautiful views towards the sea.

Participants pay on a sliding scale from £5 to £15 per class depending on their circumstances, and the charity is hoping to sell out all the classes to raise much needed funds.

Davy Jones, Chair of Trustees for Brighton Yoga Foundation said: “This is a great way for people to enjoy an exciting outdoor yoga class in a fabulous location, while at the same time knowing that they have given the gift of yoga to others”.

The charity’s outreach programme is dedicated to helping people of all backgrounds enjoy the calming and therapeutic benefits of yoga.

They also aim to challenge preconceptions and barriers to taking part in yoga, which include the perception that yoga is for able bodied, healthy individuals only and the rising cost of attending a class in a studio or leisure environment.

Their current projects include chair yoga to cater for those with mobility problems and a female only class suitable for those who have experienced trauma, chronic illness, and mental health challenges.

For more information or to book onto an outdoors class, which take place during May and June, see the Brighton Yoga Foundation website or follow them on Twitter.



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‘Helping young people survive and thrive’

A charity which helps LGBT+ young people develop their confidence, mental health and wellbeing is celebrating a successful partnership with a global investment management firm.

Just Like Us work to improve the lives of young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans through initiatives including their School Diversity Week, student-led Pride groups programme in schools and their ambassador programme for LGBT+ 18 to 25 year olds.

They have been working with investment firm BlackRock since 2018, and in addition to a grant the business has also supported their employees to give time, skills and support to the charity.

During the pandemic, BlackRock provided public speaking training to Just Like Us’ London volunteer ambassadors to prepare them for speaking in schools about being LGBT+, and help inspire the next generation to be themselves and become better allies.

BlackRock’s families network has also supported the charity with a panel talk on the importance of LGBT+ allyship, given CV and interview practice advice to volunteer ambassadors and helped with a rainbow ribbon campaign to fundraise for Just Like Us.

BlackRock’s Managing Director of Global Public Policy Group, Martin Parkes, said: “Working with Just Like Us’ student ambassadors to build their stories and narratives has been hugely rewarding.

“Their ability to show that embracing your LGBT+ identity is a journey to be taken over time with friends and allies is so empowering. I wish I had had mentors like that when I was 16.”

Chief Executive of Just Like Us, Dominic Arnall added: “We are so grateful for the continued support of BlackRock.

“Their grant and generous support – from helping our volunteers with interview practice to fundraising and speaking up about the importance of allyship – enables Just Like Us to help improve the lives of so many more LGBT+ young people.

“This support is vitally needed right now, particularly as we’ve found the pandemic has left LGBT+ young twice as likely to struggle with their mental health than their peers.”

To find out more about Just Like Us visit their website or follow them on Twitter.



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