Tell us about yourself…
My name is Lauren Razek, and like my name, I am half British, half Egyptian. I grew up between the two countries, and although I’m now based in London, both the UK and Egypt are home to me – or perhaps one is home away from home, but I couldn’t tell you which..
I began a career in international development and sustainability, and while I ventured into different areas of it – urban, rural and environmental development, sustainable agriculture and ethical fashion, it was always within the realm of trying to make things better. It has always been important to me that my work is meaningful and contributes to making the world a better place, even in a small way.
Outside of work, I love stories in all forms, I am a firm supporter of all things geared towards health and wellbeing, and while I love all nature, my happy place is the sea.
You started an ethical fashion brand, can you tell us about that..
I got involved in ethical fashion when I found out about the horrors of the fashion world. I have always liked clothes and accessories, and when I realised how harmful that industry is I decided to shift to ethical consumption when it comes to fashion. Trouble is there were a lot of things I couldn’t find, so I decided to make them! The brand was called Lauren Razek and brought together social and environmental sustainability, beauty, mythology and fashion – all things I appreciate and enjoy. It was hard work, but well worth it. I have put it on pause now because the health of rivers called to me, so to speak.
How did you become interested in river protection?
I have always been drawn to water, and rivers are truly a thing of beauty. Both my countries are built around ancient rivers, and fresh water is life; without it we – and so many more life forms – would perish. And beyond that, these wonderful rivers that give us and other creatures so much, deserve our respect, appreciation and protection.
It is a crying shame that they’re in their current dire state. All of Britain’s 200,000km network of rivers are polluted, and that is simply unacceptable. The rivers in Britain are the lifeblood of the land, and I don’t believe any form of healthy life is possible without healthy rivers – physical, mental or emotional.
Given all that, I was very happy to be a part of River Action when Charles Watson approached me in 2021. When I found out about the extent of pollution in our rivers, I was horrified, and getting involved professionally in rectifying this tragic state of affairs felt like the right thing to do.
Tell us about your role
I am River Action’s Development Manager. I helped James Wallace put together our mission, five-year strategy and goals, and now I ensure our work feeds into our mission and fulfils our goals, I am responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of our work, measuring our impact and ensuring we are on track; I also raise funds to make the work possible. Like River Action itself, I don’t do on-the-ground work, but I help provide the resources and the systems that make the work possible.
In your opinion, what needs to change in order to rescue Britain’s rivers?
Priorities, mentalities and systems. It is outrageous, not to mention extremely short-sighted, that the health of our environment, and particularly our rivers, isn’t a top priority of the Government and industries. That has to change. Laws and regulations to protect our rivers must be enforced, supply chains must change, and we must all be continuously aware and actively care for the health of rivers and nature. I‘m very proud to be part of a team that is working to change those things, and given the impact we have had and the changes we can see, I am optimistic and hopeful. We have to be!