Good For Nothing? Rosie Kilburn

avatar By Jemima Jordan 28th October 09

Good For Nothing? Rosie Kilburn

Rosie Kilburn set up her volunteering project, ‘The Knock On Effect’, following a cancer diagnosis in February 2008 Rosie decided to raise money to help support those affected indirectly by cancer. She put on a successful art auction, raising over £9,000 to fund a business designing and selling t-shirts, the proceeds of which are donated to cancer charities.

‘The messages [on our t-shirts] are designed to be positive, and I know they are also controversial.  I didn’t want to shy away from telling people about cancer. Volunteering is a great way to help your community and I wanted to be part of Good For Nothing to send out a positive message about young people.  I’m fed up of all the negative press we get.’

Rosie’s Story:
Rosie and her sister, SylvieRosie considers herself to be an unremarkable girl, with an unremarkable life.  She is a seventeen-year-old sixth form student studying for A levels.  Her family consists of her parents, Jo and Chris, her brother Callum and her sister Sylvie.  Rosie says her parents and her boyfriend, Toby, are ‘amazing people, who really keep my days entertained’.  Rosie has a part-time job at Tesco, and volunteers at her local Red Cross shop.

Rosie’s diagnosis of a rare liver cancer, prompted her to start a campaign, the ‘Knock On Effect’, to raise money to help and support those affected indirectly by cancer.
After her diagnosis, Rosie began to think about those closest to cancer sufferers, or as she prefers to think of them, survivors:

‘There’s plenty of support for patients, but there’s not nearly as much for the people around them, who have to take care of them’, Rosie says.  ‘Also, I heard so much that was negative and depressing and I was fed up with people saying (even with the best of intentions) “sorry to hear about your illness and your life”.

So I decided to put those two things together by starting my own business selling t-shirts with positive messages about cancer to raise money for the families and friends of survivors’.

Slogans on Rosie’s eye-catching t-shirts include The C Word, All Cancer Is Not Created Equal, Survivors Not Sufferers, and Cancer Survivor.

‘The messages are designed to be positive, and I know they are also controversial, but I didn’t want to shy away from telling people about cancer and wanted to get past the taboo’.

Rosie has acquired additional skills while managing her campaign.

‘I learned about money, and budgeting.   I’ve also learned about branding and public relations.  Many people understand the brand we’ve created for the business, ‘The Knock On Effect’, because so many people are affected by cancer’.

Rosie plans to print out a thousand limited edition t-shirts, another part of her marketing strategy.  She is realistic about the reaction to her art auction.

‘I had a strong background story.  Without the cancer, the advertising and the blog, there wouldn’t have been such a good response.  The messages on the t-shirts are an easy way to reflect and project my feelings’.  Rosie believes the messages can also help survivors.  ‘Positive thinking is so important to survivors.  It has such a positive impact on your well-being’.

Rosie remains positive when considering her future career.

‘I have no idea where I want to be in five or ten years’ time.  I’m considering a mixture of career choices, ranging from owning a theme park to being a wedding planner’.  She adds: ‘Think big!’

•    Rosie’s perception of how young people are portrayed in the media

“Young people generally only really get bad press and I don’t like how it is always focused on the negative. It’s a small minority of us who cause trouble; why not look at the good things?”

Copy written by Caroline Pearce