The media volunteers helping UKBET to expand their work in Bangladesh

If you ask most small charities what’s at the top of their marketing wish list, it’s likely a solid communications strategy would be pretty high up there. This was certainly the case for small charity UK-Bangladesh Education Trust (UKBET) when their trustee, Valentina Lewis, applied to take part in our 2018 Women’s Voices event.

The event, which marked International Women’s Day in March 2018, brought together 29 charities that support women and girls with some of the most talented women from across the media and advertising industry for an evening of creative brainstorming and strategic communications advice. Each charity was assigned their own dedicated team of volunteers, from more than 50 of the UK’s leading media organisations, ready to tackle their charity’s brief.

One of the charities successful in securing a place was UKBET. Valentina and fellow-trustee Shegufta Rahman joined us for the event hosted at Google UK. We spoke to Valentina to find out what the volunteer support they received has meant to UKBET.

Supporting children in Bangladesh

UKBET was founded in 1992 in response to repeated requests from head teachers at schools in Sylhet, a city in northeast Bangladesh, for help in improving the teaching of English. Since then, UKBET has trained over 2,000 teachers in English language teaching skills. In 2013 the charity expanded its work and established the Working Children’s programme to support children who are engaged in hazardous work. Despite it being against the law, over three million children in Bangladesh are employed in work that is defined as hazardous like welding metal and emptying batteries.

Young child holding car parts

Following a baseline study that revealed that 3,000 children are employed in hazardous jobs in Sylhet City, UKBET initiated a pilot programme.

At the start of 2018 the charity started exploring expanding their work again, this time to focus on supporting girls and mothers in Sylhet. However before they embarked on approaching funders, they felt it was important to have a strong brand and online presence.

Our main barrier is funding and awareness of what we do

A need to increase awareness and reach

“Our main barrier is funding and awareness of what we do amongst the UK Bangladeshi community and beyond.” Said Valentina. “We applied to take part in Media Trust’s Women’s Voices event to help us build a stronger identity and put ourselves in a stronger position as an organisation, in order to attract donors to fund this new piece of work.”

In the UK the charity is run solely by volunteers. There is very little time and resource for marketing and communications however the charity knew it would be key to helping them continue their vital work. “Our aim was to come away from the Women’s Voices event with advice on how to develop a communications strategy and advice on how to increase our reach“ said Valentina.


“Marketing and communications is key in enabling us to raise awareness and attract funding for our work so we can continue to sustain and grow our operations to reach more children in Bangladesh.”

Meeting the team at Women’s Voices

Media Trust paired Valentina and Shegufta with a team of four experts from across the world of media and advertising: Veronica Tsiros from Clear Channel UK, Rita Ruparelia from A + E Networks, Nawar Najeeb from Google UK and Yolanda Joseph from Kinetic Worldwide.

Together, they were able to start developing a strategic communications plan to raise awareness of the charity in the UK. They covered social media, events, branding and the UKBET website in just a few hours. Valentina said: “The session with the volunteers was invaluable to us. The group have helped us carve out a plan of action and helped solidify our brand.”

“Being volunteers with our own jobs it was an incredible opportunity to have a group of experts dedicate their time to our cause. It exceeded our expectations and some of our volunteers.”

The team at Women's Voices stand together: Nawar, Valentina, Rita, Veronica, Shegufta and Yolanda

The team at Women's Voices: Nawar, Valentina, Rita, Veronica, Shegufta and Yolanda

Working with Veronica and Yolanda

Two of their volunteer team, Veronica and Yolanda, offered to extend their support to UKBET beyond the Women’s Voices event. A month later the charity spent the day at Clear Channels’ UK offices refining everything they had discussed at the Women’s Voices event. Valentina said: “It was a great opportunity to look over what the volunteers had advised us to do at the Women’s Voices event, update them on how we’d progressed and give feedback from the other trustees. With that we were able to develop the action plan further and now have a comprehensive deck of recommendations that we as an organisation can work through, knowing it will get us to a better place.”

“As a result we’re hoping to diversify our funding avenues enabling us to continue what we do for the people we support and most of all, enable us to branch out and launch our new programme supporting girls and mothers in Sylhet.”

Since the session at Clear Channel with Veronica and Yolanda, Valentina and the team have sent away a number of funding bids: “We are now more confident in our brand and as a result we have ultimately felt more confident to apply for funding. We have also secured a day fundraising at the East London mosque during Ramadan.”

It has been incredible for us to get this kind of expertise at no financial cost to the charity

Telling UKBET’s story through film

UKBET are now working with sound editor, Alex Goldstein, who they met via Media Trust’s volunteer platform. The platform allows charities to post requests for volunteer support from media and advertising professionals who want to share their skills with a good cause: “We posted a request for support to make a short film that we could use to showcase what we do. Alex, who works on sound for films, picked up the request. He said if we could find a video editor he would be happy to put the finishing touches to the audio. He then contacted me again to say a friend of his had offered to do the film editing. We almost have the finished article and expect it to be complete by the end of June.”

Summing up UKBET’s volunteer support

Valentina said: “It has been incredible for us to get this kind of expertise at no financial cost to the charity and our experience of working with our volunteers has been amazing. They have been so professional and patient and we’re hugely grateful.“


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