Meet our Soho Works workmate, Brad Gudger
A two-time cancer survivor and one of our 2019 Soho House Pioneers, Gudger founded his charity and app, Alike, in order to better connect cancer patients and survivors. Here, the London Works member discusses how he’s developing the app, his work as an advisor for NHS England, and living by Michelle Obama’s words
Local Soho Works: 180 Strand, London
How did you get where you are today?
‘I think the reason I got where I am starts with my experience of cancer. I went through a really terrible ordeal (that’s an understatement), but I came through and it made me want to help others.
‘The feeling of isolation impacts every cancer patient, regardless of who you are or where you live. I’ve undergone treatment twice and felt as isolated living in a village in the middle of north Yorkshire as I did in central London. Cancer can be a postcode lottery, so the idea behind Alike was to create something that’s egalitarian and fosters connection for cancer patients and survivors no matter where they are.
‘I’m really proud of myself and the work I do, but it’s also down to a lot of generous people who have helped along the way. My work with Alike, and with the NHS and the United Nations is on behalf of and shared by so many, not just myself.’
What are you currently working on?
‘The Alike app is due to launch early next year. We’ve just started testing, which means assessing the functionality, but also developing the online community. As a charity, we’re raising funds to scale our minimum viable product and get it into the hands of as many cancer patients as possible. We’re right at the start of that process of learning, developing, expanding and scaling – I’m really excited. It’s been a long time in the making.
‘My other work involves being a youth activist and championing the youth voice. I’m an NHS Improvement Youth Expert Advisor, so I work really closely with NHS England to make sure young people are listened to and accounted for. Our generation wants more transparency. People want to know how decisions are made. And if those decisions are not representative, then they’re set up to fail.’
It’s been a tumultuous year – what’s inspiring you at the moment?
‘I’ve been really inspired by, as a collective, how we’ve responded to COVID-19 and the events of this year. I’ve been in isolation twice before due to cancer and, while there were some things I could draw upon that were similar, the thing that really got me through lockdown is knowing we’re all in this together. No matter who you are, we’ve had to respond collectively and I think that’s actually so inspiring.’
Favourite quote or words to live by?
‘I have a few. Pretty much anything that Michelle Obama says. “When they go low, we go higher” is a good way to live your life.’
What do you do when you’re stuck for inspiration?
‘Speak to my boyfriend and my friends who are creative. I run the risk of being in a silo, just hearing the same things over and over again, so I find it interesting stepping outside of that. I have a tendency to talk a lot, but I love hearing people’s experiences.’
What are your three essentials for a productive day?
‘Soho Works, my laptop, and a coffee.’
Have you got any Sunday night rituals before starting a new week?
‘I volunteer my time for lots of different projects and that can easily encroach on my weekend, so Sunday is my chance to switch off from everything. I’ll watch Netflix, hang out with my boyfriend or just go off into my own little bubble.’