Alternatives: a hub in London for personal development Alternatives was founded in 1982 as a project of St James’s Church. It is now an independent not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (company registration no. 3978199). Although St James’s Church, in its openness of heart and mind, includes Alternatives, the ideas in the programme offered by Alternatives are not necessarily representative of the church itself. The office of Alternatives is based in London. A wide range of programmes is offered by Alternatives. For many years, weekly talks have taken place on Monday evenings at St James’s Church in Piccadilly in central London. These run from 7–8.30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased before the talks online or on the day at the door. Discounts are offered when tickets are bought online. Discounted concession tickets cost £8 and discounted standard tickets cost £12 online. At the door, standard tickets cost £15 while concessions cost £10. Concessions are offered to full-time students, over-60s, and those in receipt of jobseeker’s and disability allowance. Thereafter a dinner and cake can be purchased. Longer seminars and workshops, which revolve around personal development, take place during weekends. Workshops are held in various central London venues over either one day or two days. Standard price, concession price and the Good Friend rate are available for most events. For the one-day workshops, as of July 2014, costs are £50 for concessions, £55 for the Good Friend ticket and £65 for the standard ticket. Weekend residential retreats and longer retreats have been held outside London. For example, the ‘Writing our lives’ retreat took place in July 2012 in Dorset in UK and in Glastonbury in July 2013. In 2014, the ‘Reflect, Connect and Re-Vision’ retreat takes place in Italy in November. Special events such as the ‘Crop Circle Wiltshire Trip’ are occasionally offered. In 2013 and 2014 two additional types of programmes have unfolded. These are the Life Lounge and the Conscious Business Club. While the Life Lounge focuses on personal development, the Conscious Business Club is specifically dedicated to those in business and to entrepreneurs. Although great care is taken in the selection of the programme, alternatives may not endorse all the views expressed by presenters at its events. A membership scheme is available. The Good Friend option costs £60 per year. This entitles the member to receive free entrance to three normal price talks in St James’s Church per year (worth £45), one free entrance to a Life Lounge event and one free entrance to a Conscious Business Club event per year (worth £40) and 15% discount on workshops (saving almost £10 on a full-price workshop). The more workshops a member attends, the more savings are possible. Events can be booked free online as soon as a member joins. Members are also entitled to free recordings of the talks booked where the presenter agrees to make them available. Workshops can be booked online. All discounts are automatically applied. The Life Friend option costs £1,250 as a one-off payment. All Life Friends are offered free talks for life plus one free Conscious Business Club event and one free Life Lounge event per year. They also receive three free workshops per programme for life. They can book any talk online as soon as they join. Even if they cannot attend an event, they will receive the free recordings of the talk they book where the presenter agrees to make them available. A 24-page programme is produced three times a year. Current print run is around 20,000 and programmes are distributed to the 12,000 contacts included in Alternatives’ mailing list. The rest are distributed via St James’s Church and at the talks and workshops and through major exhibitions, London libraries, and community and holistic centres. Four options are available for advertising, namely: full page, half page, quarter page and eighth page. From Autumn 2014, the programme has become A5 size instead of A4. In 2014, programme periods were: Spring/Summer, Autumn, Winter/Spring 2015. Programmes are usually mailed out 14 days after the insert dates featured on the website. However, as minor printing or mailing delays do sometimes occur, it is suggested that advertisers do not advertise an event which is close to the mailing dates. All production and mailing dates are listed on the website. Several inserts can be included in the programme mailing. The minimum cost is for 1,000 for an insert up to 10 grams, with higher costs for higher weights. Only inserts to the whole mailing list are accepted. Alternatives does not sell its mailing list. Alternatives offer an e-newsletter to which anyone can subscribe. There are also a wide range of free online resources available on its website. These include free podcasts, free audio archive and free noticeboard. Additional ones are available to members. Programmes are sent to members and non-members by post. Should a member or a non-member no longer want to receive the paper programme, an email can be sent to [email protected] giving one’s full name and postcode and stating that one no longer wants to receive the paper programme and he or she will be taken off the mailing list. A full programme is available as a downloadable PDF file from the website and advertisements can be reserved by email. Unsubscribing and subscribing to the e-newsletter is conducted online. Advertising is possible on the classified section of the website, in the programme and in the e-newsletter. Alternatives is active on Facebook and on Twitter. The social media page on the website explains how to follow Alternatives on these platforms.