Spotlight on Liz Saul
6 September 2016
This week the spotlight is on Liz Saul, Communications Officer, Office of the Vice-Provost (Development).
What is your role and what does it involve?
I am the Communications Officer in the Office of the Vice-Provost (Development) and I focus specifically on communications around the UCL Dementia Retail Partnership.
This is a group of nine retailers who have all pledged to support the UCL Dementia Research Institute through the 5p carrier bag levy.
The role is quite varied and changes on a daily basis, which makes it a really exciting time to be part of the DARO team and to also be focused on this particular project.
The retail partnership came about quite unexpectedly following the introduction of the carrier bag levy last year, and as it is still quite early days, it is growing and evolving all the time!
My role ranges from supporting the retailers with their own activities such as Iceland's Charity Week, promoting the retail partnership on social media, writing news stories and also generating material to support and promote our partnership with the various retailers.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I only joined UCL in July this year. I previously worked as Marketing and Communications Officer for Sentebale, a charity founded by Prince Harry which supports vulnerable children living in southern Africa.
I had been there for three and a half years and it was my first 'real job' out of university. Prior to that, I worked in a pub in south London while doing my Master's!
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
I worked on something called the 'Lesotho Photography Project' with Fujifilm and Chris Jackson, the Getty Images Royal Photographer in October last year.
We took 30 Fuji Instax cameras out to Lesotho to use at Sentebale's children's centre, which is an amazing resource providing residential camps for vulnerable children in Lesotho.
We ran photography lessons for the kids staying at the centre. They also used the cameras in workshops as a means of developing their creativity, communication and interpersonal skills and also as a way of expressing themselves in a fun and empowering way.
Lots of the children are dealing with very difficult circumstances including poverty, losing a parent or living with HIV.
It was amazing to see the children really get into taking photos and start to interact with each other when they had initially started off as very shy. As a bonus, by the end of the week, they were taking some great pictures!
We also worked with a great film crew from South Africa to document the project and create a couple of short films on the project and the charity's work.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of you to-do list?
I am currently in the middle of planning our activity around World Alzheimer's Day on 21 September and the anniversary of the retail partnership on 5 October.
We have some exciting things in the pipeline to show how the retailers are supporting UCL's dementia research and how it will ultimately change the lives of those living with dementia.
It's important for us to be able show the link between the 5p that you pay for a carrier bag and UCL and, therefore, to UCL's dementia research.
The work that is being done by Professor Nick Fox and his team at Queen's Square into dementia is incredible, but the facilities desperately need updating. This is where the retail partnership comes in, as it will be able to plug the funding gap to redevelop the building.
Improving these facilities is vital for UCL to be able to make the gains needed in research to develop treatments and, ultimately, a cure for dementia.
On 5 October, it will have been a year since we started being charged for plastic bags in supermarkets in England and it is amazing to have so many big names - Iceland, Asda, Waitrose and Morrisons to name a few - supporting UCL in this way.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
Album: Tough Love - Jessie Ware
Film: Miss Congeniality (I'll wave goodbye to my street cred now, but it reminds me of being a young teenager and hoping that I could pretty much be Gracie Hart one day - or at least have the same level of sass as her!)
Novel: We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?
I love cheese jokes. Two classics include:
Did you hear about the explosion at the cheese factory? All that was left was debris.
What do you call cheese that isn't yours? Nacho cheese…
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
That's really hard, how big is the room?! Having watched a lot of the Olympics recently I'd invite the Brownlee brothers and Lizzie Armitstead to pick their brains on training. Add Beyoncé into the mix, Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney for a bit of comedy and you've got one really odd dinner party!
What advice would you give your younger self?
A really naff quote that was in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel really resonates with me: "Everything will be alright in the end, and if it's not alright then it's not the end."
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I currently train as part of the GB Paracycling squad and have done since May 2014. Post-London 2012, British Cycling ran a #RoadtoRio recruitment drive to get more women on the team as they had quite a few gaps across the different classifications.
I didn't quite make it to Rio, but some of the ladies I joined the squad with will be there competing so I will be cheering them on from afar!
I work part-time at OVPD so that I can fit in my training. Richmond Park is like my second home at the moment, so I can often be found riding there or out in the Surrey hills at the weekend.
What is your favourite place?
I love going home to my parents in Dorset. They live near the beach and it's a great place to go to get away from the hectic-ness of London for a bit.