By Andrew Hodgetts
Over the past week, you may have been lucky enough to receive a phone call from a cautious yet curious former Josephine Butler student. From Monday 30th April until Thursday 3rd May, I spent my evenings speaking to Josephine Butler College alumni on the phone. It was a nerve-racking experience, but in the end it was enjoyable chatting to some of the people who shaped the College before my time!
I started calling on Monday 30th April. I learned the basics and listened to some of the seasoned student callers, who were calling alumni on behalf of Durham Business School. At this point I was incredibly nervous. I was apprehensive that people would just be annoyed that I had bothered them and put the phone down angrily. After a couple of calls, however, I realised that most alumni were genuinely interested to talk to me!
I steadily gained confidence and began to enjoy the conversations that I had with alumni. The calls served a number of purposes. Firstly, they were a way for us to check that we have the correct addresses, email addresses and phone numbers for our alumni (we don’t for many – please do update your contact details with us here). Secondly, the calls were a great opportunity to share memories and talk about anything that the alum on the end of the phone was interested to talk about. Topics of conversation included asking about the development of the Bar, asking how Jill, Adrian and Des are doing, and even asking if the Mound was still shrinking (I wasn’t aware that it was ever shrinking…?)!
Along the way, I somewhat accidentally managed to link some students up with alumni who work in the companies, places and regions where they themselves have secured graduate jobs. Hopefully these simple conversations will have provided a friendly face and some kind words for Butler students going out into the working world. Matt Crane (2010) wrote in the Alumni Newsletter (February 2011): ‘On a training course [with PwC] in London I sat down at a table and discovered that I’d been seated next to another Butler alumnus. Given how young the College still is, I’m sure that in a few years we’ll be cropping up everywhere!’ From my conversations on the phone, it certainly does seem that the Butler alumni network will soon be linking up all over the place!
Thirdly, the calls were a chance to discuss with alumni how they can both engage with the College and alumni communities, and support students at Josephine Butler College. I found that a lot of alumni were aware of the Butler Angels scheme, but had not yet got round to signing up. It only takes two minutes to sign up (click here). Please do become an Angel if you are not already. If you are an Angel, please don’t forget to keep your details up to date by contacting the administrator (here). A couple more alumni expressed interested in the ‘Meet the Angels’ event on 2nd June.
We also discussed how alumni can give back to the College financially. While this topic was sometimes met with apprehension, it does not need to be. I do not expect all of our alumni to be able to give back financially to the College. I am a recent graduate myself and know what it is like to have multiple demands on already limited finances. Giving back is an option, but not an expectation, so I hope that alumni are not put off by the College’s fundraising campaigns. There are many ways to give back to the College and engage in the College and alumni communities without money changing hands, such as through the Butler Angels and Alumni Magazine.
Some of the alumni I spoke to, however, were able and keen to give back to the College. If you are interested in supporting the growth and development of Josephine Butler College financially, you can do so in a number of ways. You can get your name etched permanently in the bar building by donating £25 to the Alumni Association Beer Garden (more info here, and you can donate online here), as many alumni already have.
You are also able to give directly to the Josephine Butler College Trust, which supports student activity at the College. With fees rising to around £9000 per year from 2012/13, it is crucial that the College continues to provide facilities for students to get the most out of their university experience. Previous uses of Trust Fund money include:
- Outdoor Multi-Use Games Area
- New lighting, speakers and technical equipment for the Bar
- Boats for BCBC (Butler College Boat Club)
- Framing and printing of student artwork and photography
You can give either by a Single Gift or a Direct Debit (even £2 per month can go a long way to supporting Butler students). You can donate online (Single Gift only) or by completing and posting the donation form (for Direct Debit and Single Gift). If donating by post, please indicate that you would like to direct your money to Josephine Butler College in the ‘Direction of your Gift’ section. You can even donate to a specific club or society through the Trust Fund (eg, BCBC, Music Society, Welfare Committee) – just let me know where you would like to direct your gift at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not able to give at the moment, please do keep us in mind in years to come.
We are also trialling another method of fundraising, using Sponsorcraft. One of our alumni, Julian May (2010), works for Sponsorcraft and is keen to use the fundraising website to help achieve the ambitions of Butler students. The Butler Film-making Society have received a College Bursary towards a new video camera, but need another £250 to be able to buy it. They have set up a Project on sponsorcraft.com, which anyone can support and donate to, with several exciting rewards for donors. If you would like to learn more or support this exciting Project, please check out the Butler Film-making Society Video Camera Project here.
Thanks for reading. And to those of you who chatted to me on the phone last week, thanks very much for taking the time to do so. It really was a pleasure to chat to so many friendly alumni. And don’t forget about the ‘Meet the Angels’ and Butler Day weekend (2nd-3rd June). The weekend is a great opportunity to come back to Butler with some old friends, especially given that Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th are both Bank Holidays!