HOW IT BEGAN
Sustainable Source was founded in Oxford in September 2016 over many a cup of tea, home-made cake and bowl of warming soup! It is the brainchild of Alex Brooks, Dan Harris and Ruth Shaw-Williams.
All three of us are seasoned veterans of the Third Sector. Between us, we have acquired several decades of experience working across non-profit making organisations, voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, self-help groups and co-operatives. With this in mind, we have a very real understanding of some of the challenges facing those working for organisations within which care-giving is a central principle of the work.
We have based Sustainable Source on the basic premise that those who are in care-giving roles need to be adequately resourced in order to healthily maintain their care-giving status.
There are many things that you could choose to describe Alex as, short of an idea or enthusiasm, however, would not feature. Over the past 18 years Alex has worked internationally and spent time balancing her work with experiencing life in as many as ways possible. In 2007, Alex gained a BA (Hons) in Youth and Community Development and has used this knowledge to work in self-advocacy, youth, environmental and rights organisations, supporting people to find their voice and be the change in their own lives. In recent years, following her own journey through a breakdown and recovery, Alex has rekindled her childhood and lifelong passion for design spaces people can and want to be - a pillow and sheet tent being the starting point for this, to this end, coupled with a conscious move to diversify her career Alex has said yes - lots. Training as a CELTA teacher, a Personal Trainer and undertaking a diploma in Applied Permaculture, as well as a completing an MA in landscape Architecture and working alongside Ruth to develop and run Sustainable Source. Alex believes in variety and following the things that give you joy - amongst the many ideas that Alex has, she dreams of starting a campsite, and walking barefoot round the world.
Based in Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, where she shares her house with her husband and cat, Ruth has struck a fine balance between herself and her work. Drawing upon her love of people, facilitating self advocacy groups and the world around her, she effortlessly merges these themes to create stunning handmade books and book art in her studio, which are exhibited internationally. This work powerfully addresses both socio-political and personal issues in a tangible and heart-felt manner. Ruth believes that the world would be a better place if everyone could reach their true potential. As a result of some early setbacks in her life and during her time spent working on and, rediscovering herself, Ruth has learned many skills that she can pass on to other people. Ever the playful person, to keep light and joy present, Ruth regularly employs one of her of alter-ego characters from an ever-increasing repertoire, adding humour and an injection of silliness to any scenario. Ruth delights in the development of self, and has a daily practice of yoga, creativity and meditation and can often be found playing her guitar.
Nicky lives near Stratford upon Avon with her husband, three teenage boys and much loved Border Terrier called Fizzy. She enjoys the countryside, nature, family and creativity. Having no idea what she wanted to do for a career she began to study ‘A’ levels which included a health course that sent youngsters out on placements. Her first placement was in a hospice. That was it! Nicky knew she wanted to become a nurse. She began her Registered Nurse training at the age of eighteen in Birmingham. She has spent the last thirty years in mainly cardiac nursing positions, including three years in Australia. More recently she has been working in palliative care and is currently employed in the community. For the last 17 years she has juggled being a nurse, wife, daughter, and mother . She and her husband chose to educate their boys at home which has proved to be an absolute joy and has taken them on adventures around the UK and Europe. At the age of 45 Nicky discovered that over the years she had given to everyone except herself and realised she had nothing left to give. This is when her journey of 'self care' began. Nicky passionately believes that before you can care for others you have to care for and value yourself first; something she believes is not taught to caregivers nor recognised as essential by many of our health care providers. By continuing and sharing her own journey, she hopes to raise awareness and acceptability of caring for oneself.