Hannah is Head of Business and Communications at SFAC and full of enthusiasm for the post. Here she speaks about the path which led her to the role, her plans for the future of SFAC – and a massive personal challenge to raise funds for the charity.
Can you say a little about yourself?
I’m Hannah Pease, married to Mark and mother of three children – girls aged 14 and 12, and a boy who is nearly 10. Mark and I have known each other since childhood and we celebrate our twentieth anniversary this summer. Surely it can’t be that long! Family is very precious to me and always will be. Our children are full of life and keep me very busy.
Mark and I met in Sunday school and Christianity remains a guiding factor of our lives. Everything else flows from that. My life is all about family; my natural family and my church family. Everyone thrives, secure in the knowledge that they belong, so this really resonates for me in terms of my work with SFAC. It couldn’t be a better fit because SFAC is all about the significance of family and the right of every child to enjoy it.
And a bit about your professional background?
I have a B.A. in Communications and English from Leeds University. Since then I’ve worked in marketing and, for the last 18 years, in ministry with a sprinkling of retail and a pastoral role with postgraduate students at Leeds University. As pastors, our ‘mission’ has taken our family up and down the UK and then across to the US. For the last 14 years I’ve juggled two ‘full-time’ jobs; being mum to the church, and most importantly, being mum to our children so I’m used to managing different commitments!
So, what does the role of Head of Business and Communications involve, and how would you describe your approach?
The job is about fundraising, marketing, advocacy and business development. While others at SFAC are focussed on developing and delivering training, my role is about managing the smooth running of the operational side and investing in systems and strategies that will take SFAC to the next level. We’re a very close knit team. Mick (Pease) has done a fantastic job of laying the initial foundations and getting the message out that institutional care is not the best solution for children. Now we’re aiming to support communities as they transition from this outdated model to family-base care. This takes a great deal of empathy, skill and commitment. We’re not about quick-fixes! My personal approach is not about box-ticking, I want to see sustainable change in a respectful way. This totally fits with the relational and empathetic ethos of the charity and has parallels with my church background.
I love that SFAC does not assume any level of understanding at the outset, and works with people, whatever their starting point with no barriers regarding race, religion, financial or educational status.
It’s my belief that SFAC “disciples” communities to care for children – discipleship towards the collective good – and that this has lasting benefits. SFAC potentially provides a generational legacy and that feels very significant. Expanding the life experience of a child and giving them the emotional tools to develop strong relationships is a baseline for their own ability to thrive and build their own families and, in turn, the strong fabric of society. I feel really inspired by this role and am at a point in my own life where a lot of my life experience is converging. Being a mother and a pastor is an experience which feeds into this. At SFAC we’re not just about good theory, but extending that into great practise, and if we do our jobs right, the outcomes and futures both for the individuals we work with and their communities will look incredibly bright.
What else should we know about your approach?
I am totally un-swayed by statistics (success defined by numbers!) It’s overly simplistic. What interests me is the forward plan and the qualitative outcome – the possibility of sustainable change. And because this is SFAC at its best, I can totally ‘sell’ the charity. Mick, and his colleagues, have been making an incredible impact for the last fifteen years and now we need to be making some noise about it! Marketing to maximise someone else’s bottom line is not what motivates me, but using those skills for something I believe in is awesome!
You talk of the “forward plan” – what are your hopes for the future of SFAC?
We are talking about educating, equipping and empowering local people globally with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to achieve best outcomes for children. I hope we can create a sustainable model for this kind of work, and we know that demand for it is increasing. I would also like to see the folks we’re investing in overseas being accredited for the training they have received and to have that recognised in their own country. Whatever I can do to move these things forward is a goal of mine. Later this year I’ll be travelling to Thailand for a conference and site visit which I am really looking forward to and which I hope will enhance my insight into what goes on, on the ground. I know I can’t solve the world’s problems – but I like to think I can play my part.
And on the subject of your personal contribution – there is a marathon on the horizon which we need to hear about.
I’m running the Boston Marathon (that’s Boston, Lincolnshire, not Boston USA!) to raise money for SFAC on 14th April. I will be running with a lifelong friend, Rachel, who lived next door when we were growing up.
I signed up knowing I wanted to fundraise for SFAC – I have done other marathons, without being sponsored so this is an extra responsibility.
I have always kept fit and enjoyed exercise and swimming, but never considered myself a runner. It wasn’t until my youngest started school that I joined a running club and my first race was a 10k for the children’s school. That was the start, and then someone suggested a half marathon. I was doubtful I could do it but a friend gave me a training schedule and I completed the Leeds Half Marathon in 2014. It’s all downhill from a half marathon. You find yourself agreeing to 26.2 before you know it. I didn’t want anyone to know I was in training, just in case it all went wrong but I had support from a friend who is an experienced runner, and I ran the Manchester Marathon in 2015. I was very pleased to come in under four hours for and I am hoping for a similar time again.
I’ve been living in Texas for the last 3 years and those guys take it to another level. I ran with folks who eat marathons for breakfast! During that time I did two seasons of training for the Houston Marathon, and ran the Louisiana Marathon in 2017. Living in those temperatures got me into the habit of early morning runs because you have to do it to beat the heat.
At the moment I’m half way through a training schedule which involves lots of very early mornings in the rain and cold. I get up at about 5am and train 5 days a week. Life is very full so there is no real time for anything except the children and running and church and SFAC. Because of the training schedule I am frequently in bed before everyone else now, and they come and say goodnight to me!
I’m a social runner, so I love running with my pals and setting the world to rights. If I have to run on my own, it’s great thinking time…. and besides that, I can keep fit – and eat cake!
And how do we sponsor you for SFAC?
You can sponsor me here. I am aiming for £1000 but hoping for more. I’m already part way there so please help if you can.
This interview was conducted by SFAC volunteer, Mary Jolley. Mary is a retired social worker and former journalist.