April 03, 2019

Meet the introvert activists who are quietly changing the world

The new episode features Sarah Corbett, left, Claire Heuchan and Stuart Beveridge from the charity Seescape

In the first of a new series of her Better Angels podcast, Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown talks to three gentle but persuasive campaigners.

What makes a good activist? The ability to make yourself heard above the din? Or a quiet determination to change things for the better?

In a new series of Better Angels - the podcast for the activist spirit - Sarah Brown explores different types of campaigning styles, including introverts and extroverts.

Sarah, who is Chair of Theirworld, started Better Angels in 2016. She said: "At Theirworld we have always worked in a very outward-facing, very assertive way. A lot of earlier episodes of the podcast were about finding your voice to create change.

"But as I met different activists I realised there is more than one way to create change. It doesn’t suit everyone to have the same approach.

"The similarities between the styles is that there is a focus on the changes needed. The difference is the journey to get there.

"If you use your voice, you use the media, protests, sitting on platforms at events. If you’re an introvert, those are not tools you want to use. But the single-minded focus on what you want to say and who needs to hear the message is the same."

The first episode of the new series focuses on quiet activism, featuring some gentle voices whose powers of persuasion have marked them out as change-makers. Sarah's guests are British activists Sarah Corbett, Claire Heuchan and Stuart Beveridge.

Listen to the episode here

"It’s been really interesting talking to people who are introvert but are passionate about change," said Sarah Brown. "I was interested to know what quieter ways of campaigning can do."

Her first guest in the new episode is Sarah Corbett, a professional activist, author, speaker and founder of the Craftivist Collective. It is a social enterprise that combines craft and activism to engage people with social justice in a non-confrontational way.

She said it's important that people "don't just see activists as shouty, loud extroverts".  Sarah added: "Craft is part of the activism toolkit - it is not to replace marches or petitions. 

"I care deeply about injustice. A lot of introverts are also highly sensitive people so we are really good at empathy and compassion."

Claire Heuchan is an award-winning feminist writer who blogs under the name Sister Outrider - writing on subjects such as race, power, identity and sexual politics.

Better Angels host Sarah Brown, right, with Claire Heuchan and actor David Tennant at Theirworld's International Women's Day event

She told Sarah Brown: "The whole purpose of the feminist movement is change - to build a world in which women and girls are liberated from all forms of oppression. If I didn't believe that change was possible there would be no point in working towards it." 

Stuart Beveridge, who has been blind since birth, works for the Seescape charity in Fife, Scotland. He talked to Sarah about how technology is transforming the lives of visually-impaired people and how working in partnerships with like-minded organisations can bring about change.

"Social media can be key - once it's up there people can't really ignore it because it's in the public eye," said Stuart. "Sometimes it can be just a small tweet - it just has to hit the right person and they take notice."

The rest of this series of Better Angels will feature a noisy activism episode and four specials, including in-depth interviews with Sarah Corbett, Claire and Stuart.

Looking back over the three years of Better Angels, Sarah Brown said she has learned to appreciate other people's styles and approaches.

"I’ve seen podcasts grow too so there are so many other voices to listen to," she said. "Always learning from people will always impact what you do."

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