Nicola on a hill top in Uganda, with her arms out smiling. It is a sunny day and Nicola is wearing a SALVE t-shirt, looking happy.

Nicola’s change in role

I’m not going to lie that right now, I feel a bit like I’m on a mountain. One that we have been slowly and steadily climbing upwards, with lots of hopes and hard work propelling us along the way. Now, we have reached the top of a peak (15 years of operating) and can take a moment to stop and reflect, just before we set off to scale the next peak. Both the journey so far and the steps yet to come are exhilarating. 

I feel like this because I want to share the news that I’m changing my role at S.A.L.V.E. In the spring of 2024, not long after S.A.L.V.E. turns 16, I will be stepping down as CEO and I will be changing my role at S.A.L.V.E. 

I will initially become an ambassador, fundraiser, donor and advisor for the charity, and then a little later, after having a break, I will also join the board of trustees to continue volunteering to share my time, skills and knowledge however is most helpful. My commitment to helping to ensure that there is “No Street Called Home” for children in Uganda is stronger than ever.

I have not taken this decision lightly and I appreciate it’s one that will take some people by surprise, as S.A.L.V.E. has been a key part of my life since I co-founded it at the age of 23. I know that now is the best time for S.A.L.V.E. for me to take this step and to work alongside a new CEO who will bring fresh skills, ideas and experience to ensure the longer term sustainability of the organisation.

S.A.L.V.E.’s history

Co-founding a charity at the age of 23 was not something I ever expected to do. However, sometimes you feel strongly enough and are in a position to offer your time, energy and commitment to do something about some of the social injustices you witness. This was the case with S.A.L.V.E. 

Seeing children of all ages, living and working on the streets of Jinja, and hearing about the horrific abuses they were experiencing, alongside their hopes and dreams of being able to have a brighter future and go to school touched my heart and made me feel passionate that I wanted to do something to help, along with my co-founders.

We were just three people and an idea to begin with. S.A.L.V.E. was a UK and Ugandan partnership charity from the start and that is a key part of the ethos and our way of working to this day.

We started by working with just a few children. Over the years S.A.L.V.E. slowly and carefully grew. Our global family of supporters expanded as people recommended us to others, and our team in both the UK and Uganda increased alongside it. We were able to buy our amazing 5 acre residential site, to open bigger Drop in Centres as the need increased, to offer emergency aid during COVID lockdowns and to start a unique Drug Rehab programme, to name but a few. We have also been able to offer increasing amounts of support for the families of the children and they communities they live in to try to do more to stop children needing to turn to the streets in the first place. Standing on top of Mount Elgon to celebrate S.A.L.V.E.’s 15th birthday earlier this year felt incredibly special. It was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on just how far we have come as an organisation and how many thousands of people’s lives we have impacted together so far. 

Our vision has always been to create a world where there is “No Street Called Home” for children in Uganda. Seeing the incredible resilience of the young people to be able to cope with their traumatic pasts and to still be full of hope for their futures has been both humbling and inspiring. They like to say they will never give up, and therefore neither will we.

Founders of SALVE - charity helping children in Uganda

My role at S.A.L.V.E.

I never planned to take on the leadership of S.A.L.V.E., but I was honoured to be asked to do so and S.A.L.V.E. has become a key focus of my life. The last 15 years have been dedicated to learning and developing both myself and S.A.L.V.E. as much as I could. 

Running a small charity means that you need to be very adaptable and able and willing to do whatever needs doing. This can mean that one day you are paddling a bathtub boat dressed up as a crocodile as part of a fundraising challenge and the next you are speaking on a panel in the Houses of Parliament. Whilst most days are spent fundraising for, monitoring, supporting and trying to improve the programmes we are running, no two days are exactly the same. 

Being the CEO of S.A.L.V.E. has been a great privilege and I am incredibly proud of the programmes we have co-developed to help street connected children and their families in Uganda. I am hugely fortunate to work alongside such a dedicated and hard working global team, who have taken S.A.L.V.E.’s mission so much into their hearts. I am also deeply appreciative for everyone who believes in us and supports us by donating or volunteering their time to make what we have achieved, possible. Your kindness inspires and motivates me every day. Seeing people go the extra mile (literally) to help us and giving so generously to support children and families they might never meet in person makes me so thankful and honoured by the trust being put in us to make sure we stretch those resources as far as we can to make as much positive difference as possible.

The time is right

They say you should be the change you wish to see in the world. Therefore, I want to ensure that S.A.L.V.E. is an organisation that is sustainable in the long term and not over reliant on too few people. The work we are doing is too important and impacting too many lives. 

The challenges we are facing as a small charity are huge. The global cost of living crisis is affecting people all over the world. Costs are going up in a time where raising funds is getting ever harder as people are needing to tighten their budgets. More children than ever before are turning to the streets for survival as their families can no longer afford even one meal a day for them. 

Yet despite this, S.A.L.V.E. is continuing to be there for street connected children and their families when they need us most. We have been growing our services to try to better meet the increasing need. 

This therefore feels like a great time to bring in a new person, so we can learn from their different experiences and work together to be creative in how we can best help more children to leave the streets and do the most good that we can. So, if you know someone who you think would have a lot to offer S.A.L.V.E. as we move into our next phase, please have them get in touch. We will be starting the search for our next CEO soon.

Thank you

I would like to finish by offering my thanks to everyone who has supported both myself and S.A.L.V.E. to be able to be a lifeline for so many children and families over the last 15 years. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together over the next 15 years and the mountains that we can climb, together.

Nicola and children wearing funky sunglasses
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