The following is a blog from year 10 student Amelia Bird who compares her Campaign Champion experience with her work experience with Send My Friend. Amelia shares her Action Day experience from both sides.
It’s a year later and I am still thriving off the opportunities that the Send My Friend to School campaign has given me. Through my involvement with Send My Friend, I experienced my first trip to Parliament, taught school children in my area about the campaign, spoke at many conferences and even visited 10 Downing Street. I would never have had these opportunities without Send My Friend! Not only this, it has increased my confidence and opened up a whole new world that I never really knew existed.
In addition, I was lucky enough to do my Year 10 work experience at Send My Friend. This has been the most incredible opportunity because I now feel I have the upper hand in knowing and understanding the substantial work and sophistication that goes on behind the scenes, creating the opportunity for other kids like me to gain a new perspective on the education system, especially in other parts of the world.
It all started in year 9 when my teacher, Mrs. Cox, suggested I sign up be a Send My Friend to School ‘Campaign Champion’. I jumped at this opportunity to have a say in the world, as I knew I would be able to meet my MP and discuss the importance of education, primarily in developing countries. Through my journey as a Campaign Champion, I was able to learn about the different barriers that many children across the world have to face. I think that it is simply unfair that some children get the liberty of a quality education yet others don’t. This thought drove me to work harder. My Campaign Champion partner, Katy, and I talked to primary schools across the area, as well as gave assemblies in school, to raise awareness of the different inequalities in global education. We also attended the Conservative Party Conference with Oxfam and pressed MPs on this important issue. This whole experience taught me to come out of my comfort zone, and I loved every minute of it.
The event I was most looking forward to in the Campaign Champion programme was the training weekend in the Midlands. This was where all the Campaign Champions from across the UK met for the first time, and we were taught all about the campaign and the things we’d be doing, including meeting with our MP! I learnt many valuable lessons and it was a real highlight of the programme for me.
Despite this, it never occurred to me how much preparation and organising this had taken. I only realised this when I had the privilege of doing my work experience in the Send My Friend office for a week. During this short period of time, I learned much more than during a school day, as I experienced real-life problems and thought about how to solve them. Having talked to some of the staff in the office, which Send My Friend share with RESULTS UK, it opened my eyes to all the amazing jobs out there; from helping to treat tuberculosis to working to influence the government – the opportunities are limitless!
On the first day, Hannah showed me around the office and introduced me to the inspirational people working alongside Send My Friend. The first project I worked on was creating a PowerPoint to share my top tips with this year’s Campaign Champions and what I had learned about engaging MPs on global education. I soon realised that this is what the organisers, Hannah N and Hannah M, have to do but on a much larger scale. Their work consists of sheer effort and determination to set up such a wide campaign, reaching over 1,000 schools across the UK. There are so many details that need considering. I proceeded to present my presentation and enjoyed inspiring this year’s Campaign Champions to rock the next day, where they would go to parliament!
On Wednesday, I walked with the RESULTS UK team to parliament, which gave me a chance to find out what they did and how their job was different to Send My Friend. During the action day, I was involved with an exciting job of taking care of Send My Friend’s Twitter account in the morning, then acted as a photographer at the MP drop-in in the afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed this, as it also gave me a chance to talk to the MPs and get their views on the situation, many of which turned out to be the same view as mine. Despite the fulfilment this task offered me, it was tiring!
Nearly 40 MPs came along to the parliamentary drop-in, which means the campaign will be spread far and wide! It was interesting to see the same day from two perspectives. Last year, when I was a campaign champion, I was only focused on the message I was getting across to my MP and wasn’t really focused on what was going on around me. However, this year, I was! It was challenging staying on top of which MP wanted their photo taken whilst also keeping the Twitter account up to date. As with all challenges, you learn a lot and I am grateful that I could share my views of the world of work in this blog.
Overall, my time at Send My Friend has been better than I could have ever imagined! I am so thankful for the people who have made this all happen. It was an unforgettable experience and I am so privileged to have learned so much through the range of different people I’ve met. I am sure this experience will benefit me as I continue to explore working in the charity sector and what it takes to change the world for the better.