What does social responsibility mean to you?
For me, social responsibility means using our strengths, skills and power to do good in the world.
By being aware of our strengths, skills and power to do good in the world, social responsibility makes us aware of the interdependence between all beings and being committed to play role we all play in alleviating suffering and sharing happiness. It’s about expanding our own wellbeing towards the wellbeing of others.
It doesn’t necessarily mean total renunciation or 100% dedication to one cause, but it’s about acknowledging our gifts and utilising them to benefit people. This is truly at the heart of what we do at Form - it’s part of our DNA.
From day one, we acknowledged that we are pretty lucky to be able to choose what we eat whilst there are billions of starving people on the planet. Therefore we thought it would be only fair to support the nourishment of people who are in a critical condition and are not able to afford food for themselves.
Tell us a bit about the Form Feeding Fund at Bansang Hospital
The Form Feeding Fund provides money to patients and their carers so they can buy food and medicine. After learning that mothers would leave the hospital before their child was healed because they couldn’t afford food for themselves, we created this initiative to support the health of caretakers and provide additional treatment to patients.
The hospital is able to provide 3 meals a day per patient, and when they need extra nutrition and medicine the hospital staff give them an extra allowance to support the recovery process. It’s important to put into context that Bansang is one of the most deprived regions in Africa, where very little grows and opportunities for human and economic development are extremely limited.
As the hospital has great facilities, due to the efforts of Anita Smith MBE, people often travel for miles and miles in a donkey kart with their families in order to seek treatment. The Fund makes sure that they all have something to eat and will not have to leave the hospital before they are ready to go.
“The astonishing thing is that, even in
What positive change have you witnessed so far?
these deprived circumstances, the children and
people we met were always smiling”
It was a very moving experience to visit the mother of twins, whose formula was still being provided by the Fund even though they were no longer in the hospital. We went to visit the village and saw where they live and it still brings tears to my eyes to remember how so many live with so little. Their house was made of clay and the only ‘furniture’ was three beds. There was no electricity, toilets, showers or even a place to cook. The astonishing thing is that, even in these circumstances, the children and people we met were always smiling.
Mariama, Head Nurse of the Child’s Ward, realised that, owing to malnourishment during her pregnancy, the mother wasn’t able to produce enough milk to breastfeed two newborns and, after learning the conditions in which she lived, would not be able to afford food for the babies after leaving the hospital. Mariama committed outside her working hours to travel to the village and personally deliver money to them.
“To know even one life has breathed easier because
How does this make you feel?
you have lived. This is to have succeeded”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson”
It is painful to see people who have no opportunities and possibilities sustain themselves - people who struggle to get basic nourishment simply because of the conditions in which they were born.
I can’t imagine how awful it must be for a mother to not be able to feed her own children. It is a relief to know that due to the Fund at least one mother no longer has to worry about having food for her babies. I like the definition of success by Ralph Waldo Emerson “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
The experience has inspired me to do more. I came back from The Gambia with a renewed sense of determination and to help as many people. I wanted to share with our community everything that we learned during our visit so that they can also see the impact their purchases have.
What else is Form doing to help communities/the planet?
We source all of our proteins from non-animal sources, which is particularly significant in light of the impact that conventional dairy farming, and its derivative, whey protein, has on the planet. We are gradually introducing fully biodegradable, compostable packaging for our protein in order to minimise waste.
What steps can other brands take to contribute?
I think that every business needs to be conscious of the impact they are or are not having on those around them. This could mean participating in social initiatives, re-evaluating operational activities in terms of environmental impact or even simply ensuring that your brand is not harming others.
With so much suffering in the world, if you have the means to help, it is your duty to do it so. It’s a universal responsibility. You don’t need to have a big budget and we ALL have something to offer; this can be time, mentoring or money for those in need. If you are a startup like Form, my suggestion is to find a cause that is close to your heart and look for independent charities where you can see the tangible results of your donations, where a little goes a long way.
What direction do you see brand’s taking in the future?
With the rise of conscious consumers and the awesome people who care about the impact that businesses have in the world, I believe that brands will make more of an effort to think beyond profit. More and more consumers are choosing to support brands with a purpose.
In addition, independent and personal brands are gaining popularity against big faceless corporations; so if you are passionate about people and the planet, get your product out there!
What’s your favorite role model brand right now?
Four years ago, when I was still working as a PR Director in the Luxury business I remember being really inspired by listening to Blake Mycoskie’s audiobook “Start Something That Matters” - he is the founder of TOMS and an incredible individual whose determination and vision has impacted a lot of lives and influenced many brands’ business models.
Want to find out more about the Form Feeding Fund? Watch the full video here. Plus, catch FORM at Balance Festival 2019, where they'll be sponsoring The LAB space and hosting engaging panel talks!
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