Interview with Award – winner Meenal Sachdev

Charity Awards - Meenal Sachdev - Most Inspiring Winner

Congratulations on winning the Charity of the Year Award for Most Outstanding Individual. Can you tell us a little about why you think you won, and also what this means to you?

Thank you. I am honoured to have received it and believe this award stands for the recognition of our work at Shiva Foundation to prevent and tackle modern slavery and human trafficking. For me, this award represents my passion, our passion at Shiva Foundation, to not only raise awareness about this hidden crime but also equip individuals, businesses and communities to put trafficking on their radar and put an end to this crime. I also think our approach, based on collaboration and creating core models, is innovative in itself and hope to share more on this in the future.

Tell us about the work you do on a day-to-day basis at the organisation. Why do you do – is there an inspiration, a passion or driving force you want to tell us about?

On a daily basis I work closely with the team at Shiva Foundation to manage initiatives across the business, nonprofit and local government sectors. As a Local Councillor, apart from my core duties, I also work with local agencies such as safeguarding boards, NHS, police and schools to ensure that they are aware of this issue and that there are clear and impactful pathways in place for the community to address incidences of modern slavery in their area. We also works with the hotel industry through our coordination of the Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network and the Stop Slavery Blueprint. We provide our services to other businesses who want to make change through our leading Women for Change events, through which we support individuals across sectors to make a difference no matter what they do.

My children inspire me, I don’t believe it’s acceptable to have violations of such basic human rights exist in 2017. What if my child was one of the millions of children who are trafficked every year. I struggle to sit back and watch, I want to be a part of the solution. The driving force behind becoming a Local Councillor was because I wanted my kids to understand their civic duty as well and there is no other way than by leading through example.

What has been your personal greatest achievement to date at your organisation?

There have been several over the last few years, but launching the the Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network at the Thomson Reuters Trust Conference stands out. Beyond this platform, what makes me proud is our journey as an organisation. I remember attending the first ever Trust Conference and simply listening and learning. A few years on, we are launching our own initiative at the very same gathering. I have a great team that made this happen. It’s not just their amazing work but also their passion and commitment to this cause and how innovatively they apply themselves that motivates me. So thank you team!

What does the future hold for you organisation?

We feel strongly that challenges such as modern slavery call for a response by organisations that are part of the global economy, whether that be businesses or NGOs. Shiva Foundation hopes share its model publicly with as many organisations as possible that wish to make this change and learn from our journey. We also intend to use our experience to work closely with government to ensure that the correct guidance is provided for those who want to make a difference.

In the longer term, I hope we can tackle other human rights issues and help to amplify the good work that is already happening on the ground. If we can do that then our future looks promising.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting a charity of social enterprise in your area?

I would probably state how excited and yet worried I would be for them. Excited because I think we need more people to see this type of work as a viable option for them. But worried because I know the turbulence they will face on the way. I know how easy it is to walk away. I know how frustrating it can get and actually how lonely too. However with each bump also comes further momentum and I would simply ask them to hold tight and enjoy the ride and never to walk away from something they really believe in. On a tangible note, I would also tell them to be clear on the way they measure success.

Anything else you would like to add? Feel free to mention anything here that you feel we should include and highlight as part of your profile.

Nobody said that this goal of ours to put an end to modern slavery was going to be easy. We are aware of the challenges and difficulties that stand in our way, but it is for that reason we are even more determined. We hope in the future we don’t even exist because this horrific crime will no longer be happening but for now, we’re working hard every day. If anyone would like to collaborate with us to do this, please feel free to reach out to info@shivafoundation.org.uk.