In Conversation with Sophia Dixon-Cave
It was a delight to meet Sophia Dixon-Cave (she/her), via video call, and learn more about her work with All Hands Together society. Sophia is a third-year politics, philosophy and economics student and the president of All Hands Together. The main aims of the society are to raise awareness and campaign for a variety of charitable causes both locally and globally; encourage collaboration between members and committee in deciding which causes to focus on; and be a fun, inclusive and open-minded society. Sophia explained that the society was built out of what was formally UNICEF society, “We created All Hands Together after the UNICEF committee had already been voted in, the program closed and so we had the chance to create something brand-new over lock-down, with our members in mind. If our members have an idea, we’ll vote on it and it’ll be a very open and educational space.”
Sophia’s positive energy and enthusiasm were palpable throughout our conversation, in a time when one can often feel paralyzed by the amount of issues with the world, I asked Sophia how she navigates this, she responded “Even if you are only helping one person you are changing one life, it might feel like a drop in the ocean, but when you change one life you change the lives of all those around that person, and the ripple effect can be amazing”. The structure of All Hands Together in effect allows the society to spread their work among different issues, “it’s actually really wonderful that now we can react to whatever feels most pressing, for example a few weeks ago we worked with Femsoc on centring the voices of black women and had a take-over on our Instagram. Also, we always wanted to endorse the climate strikes – and actually always have – but we can now bring that even more into our activism.”
I asked Sophia what kind of events the society plan to hold, she explained “because we are coming off the back of UNICEF society which had been running for four years, we have in place so many events that we know are successful. For example, we’ve ran an event called Fast 24, where you fast for 24 hours and people are sponsored. For Fast 24 anyone can join with their own fundraising page and we can collaborate with other societies. Last year we managed to raise over £4000. It’s such a good way to raise money for any issue you feel passionate about, and it’s also a sort of personal test – but you are not alone”. Fortunately, this is an event which can also be held online this year. Sophia admitted, “I get so hangry doing it”, I admit this was my first thought when Sophia described the event, yet it is worth the hunger as an effective means of fundraising for important causes. “We also did a speed dating and auction event with Save the Children and STAR; it was so much fun and we realised so much money for children refugees. I even ended up going on a few dates with someone from it!” Save the Children as a society was started up last academic year, Sophia noted “their president (Alex Madden) is so superb and she works so hard, so we will definitely want to work with them again.”
Sophia and I discussed the culture surrounding charity work here in Exeter, and in general British life. “More work could be done by individuals at the university, when they realise that they do have an hour to spare which could be used to just sit on a stand or give out flyers. And I think it would be helpful if the University itself actively encouraged that with some kind of scheme which would point students in the direction of charity work and it all more accessible, and have a means by which people could keep a record of the work that they are doing, which the Uni could take into consideration.” Uncritical and unaggressive, Sophia was clear that she believes people would be willing to do more, it just is not on our collective radar enough, “But you don’t have to commit all your time to it, it can be so helpful to do little bits here and there, it’s so helpful when people partake in even one event, they don’t need to feel bad about it. It’s actually much more sustainable to do your bit here and there because then you won’t burn out, and you can share the work with other people.”
We examined the work of All Hands Together on social media, the Instagram for the society is, like Sophia, full of joy and passion. But I asked Sophia how as a society they feel able to maintain momentum surrounding so many world issues, “We had a chat about it as a society recently, and we realised that while it was great that we were using our platform to post a wide range of information, for example surrounding black lives matter, but we realised that we were in danger of becoming an echo chamber as for many of our members this was not new information. So, we have been trying to widen our scope of influence and reach out to people who may not have access to the same information, both on- and offline”.
Speaking with Sophia reminded me of the power of positivity and the importance of small simple acts, as part of larger movements. Membership for All Hands Together is available at any time for £5, and the society is planning to enlist speakers and workshops form people with careers in charity and the developmental world.
- Factfulness by Hans Rosling, a book which explores the shock-tactics of the media with through negativity and a potential alternative
- The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer
- The Financial Times Podcast – a short podcast every day to give you a clear and interesting overview of current affairs
- Stand By Me Lesvos
- Effective altruism
- Headspace for meditation