Nathan Shoesmith, Managing Director of the Speaker
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We’re back with another in our series celebrating great people who are achieving great things. This time, we speak to Nathan Shoesmith, an NCS Grad, uni student, and the Managing Director of political news site The Speaker. Here’s his story…
Tell us who you are and what you do in a nutshell...
I’m Nathan and I’m a student of Management, Politics & International Relations at Lancaster University. I graduated from NCS in 2017 and have since been an Ambassador, Team Leader and am now one of the ‘Future Influencers’ on the programme.
I’m a multi-award winning social entrepreneur and have worked on a variety of charitable and socially focused projects. When I’m not doing any of the above, you’ll find me watching, participating in or teaching sport.
You’re also the Managing Director of The Speaker. How did that happen and what’s The Speaker all about?
Back in sixth form, my class was discussing how we felt that there wasn’t really anything that made politics accessible and understandable for young people. Politics is often in the news but it can quickly become confusing.
Following on from that initial discussion, The Speaker was developed and later launched. Today, we deliver impartial, understandable and explanatory coverage of top political news stories. Politics impacts all of us everyday, so we believe it is key that the wider public, but especially young people, can understand how it works, how it impacts us and how we can get involved.
You’ve done all sorts of fundraising for local and national charities. How does your passion for donating your time to other causes tie into what you do at The Speaker?
I’ve raised awareness and around £10,000 for charitable causes in the last six years. I’m passionate about helping others and believe that getting involved in social action is really important and worthwhile.
While The Speaker is a business, we work towards a very socially focused mission. We want young people to be able to understand politics and how they can get involved so that they can make their mark – after all, the young people of today are the leaders of tomorrow. We’re helping young people to make their voices heard and working hard to continually inspire our audiences.
How important is it that young people get involved in politics?
The country (and the world) is facing huge challenges now and will no doubt face more in the future. Whether it’s working to avert the climate emergency, to improve equality or to negotiate international relations, politics is important, but it isn’t always easy.
It’s of vital importance that young people gain some understanding of politics and then get involved. Decisions made today will impact us today but also for generations to come, so adding your voice could really impact how we live our lives.
What do you think is the best way to get your voice heard and what advice would you give to those looking to get into politics or who want to make a change?
There are of course, many different ways to get your voice heard – you could sign a petition, write to your MP, post on social media, write to a newspaper, attend a protest or even become a politician yourself.
I’m not sure there is one way to best get your voice heard. Different people will find they are more comfortable with different platforms than others. I’d advise trying to get involved in multiple different ways and trying to engage with those people in positions in power. Be persistent and be proactive. Change often only happens when a person or group goes out there and speaks up – why couldn’t that person be you?
What’s the most positive impact your work has had on you - or the world around you - so far?
The Speaker’s content has been seen millions of times around the UK and world, so hopefully this has helped to inform, educate and inspire a wide range of people. The work I’ve done with charities to date has usually centred around either saving or improving lives. This has perhaps had the most positive impact - it’s possible that the money I’ve helped raise could have funded a lifesaving air ambulance mission and gone towards improving the lives of others.
Do you face any challenges, and how do you overcome them?
Nobody is invincible or immune from mental health problems - and I'm no exception. They were the words I used to begin a personal article on Mental Health Awareness Week this year. It is thought that nearly half of us will experience some form of mental health challenge during our lifetime and I experienced some due to an injury and lockdown earlier this year.
I love what I do, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t challenges. Running a business like The Speaker or any social action project can often require good problem-solving skills and a lot of perseverance. Things don’t always go to plan, but it’s important to keep going and to not give up straight away.
Whatever the challenge is, I find talking and being open with others about how you’re feeling and what’s happening can help massively. Sport and music can help our mental and physical wellbeing a lot – I’m a massive fan of both, but I also find that they help me develop new ideas and solutions to challenges.
You were featured in The Independent’s Happy List 2019. What does this mean to you?
I don’t do what I do for the purposes of recognition, but instead to help others. Naturally though, I feel honoured to be included in the Happy List and it is great to know that my work is recognised as having a positive impact.
What’s the one thing you hope young people take away from your talks?
The main thing I hope that young people take away from these talks is that they can be a driver for change and they have the power to make their mark. Many of us, myself included, have sometimes turned down opportunities because we’re not interested or ‘don’t have the time’. However, taking opportunities really can open up new doors for us. If there is no door, we can try building it – often the main thing holding us back in life is ourselves.
What’s next for you and The Speaker?
The Speaker has continued to grow rapidly in the first half of 2020 and we are planning so this momentum can continue. In the later stages of this year, we’ll be launching more targeted education content to further help explain politics to young people.
One thing I love about the work I do – whether it’s as a student, teaching sport or working on projects such as The Speaker - is that no two days are the same. The future is exciting, but exactly what it holds, we’ll have to wait and see.