Hi my name’s Laoise Rogers, I’m a 17-year old 6th Year student, and I was fortunate to recently spend a few days of work experience with the Poverty Alliance.
Many people these days unknowingly share a narrow view of charities and third sector organisations: failing to see beyond shop-fronts selling second-hand goods or groups of people shaking cans of loose change. I began my pursuit for work experience with some knowledge of how charities work, as a result of my weekly volunteering with Marie Curie, but after spending time researching third-sector parties more and visiting the Poverty Alliance office, my understanding and appreciation has significantly increased.
What immediately struck me, and left a lasting impression, was the passion with which the Poverty Alliance team speaks about their work. Since being a young child I’ve had a strong sense of justice and for human rights so it was inspiring to speak to Rachel Thomson, Carla McCormack, and Fiona McHardy who are responsible for campaigns, policy and research– women campaigning for what they believe in. Anyone can say that they believe in social justice or wish we could end poverty once and for all, but a small proportion of those people are actively working to bring about real social change.
I began my experience by learning about the main campaigns that Poverty Alliance are currently focused on which are the “Give Me Five”, “Living Wage Campaign”, and “Stick Your Labels” campaigns. As someone hoping to study politics at university, their policy influencing work was particularly fascinating. I learned about the nature of the relationship between the Alliance and the government – where possible an amicable relationship is maintained but they are ready to fight their corner when a different approach is needed.
It is important that organisations in regular communication with the public keep up with the changing times, and social media is a vital tool for doing so. Upon scrolling through the Poverty Alliance Twitter page I was admittedly attracted to the abundance of animal gifs, proving that their unique tactics for luring people in to completing surveys do work! After looking at a huge number of examples, my morning culminated with the terrifying task of tweeting an article on their behalf. Joking aside, the pressure was immense as my finger hovered over the mouse ready to send that tweet.
On my last day, I attended a meeting with members of South Lanarkshire council, along with representatives of other organisations, to discuss the upcoming Challenge Poverty Week (October 15th-21st, get involved if you can!). The opportunity to sit in on a meeting may register little importance to someone whose diary is filled with them, but I gained valuable insight in to how a professional meeting is conducted, and learned a huge amount about what it takes to plan such a big event as CPW. There was a particular emphasis in discussion about the wording of promotional materials and branding, as the way we word things can be make or break in terms of getting the correct message across, and removing stigma around the biggest issues in our society such as poverty.
Like many 17-year olds I have little idea of the career I wish to pursue, but as I left Hope Street on my final day, I was leaving with a few criteria I hope my future job will meet. In 10 years time I want to be doing something worthwhile, I want to be creating positive change, and most of all I want to be achieving the same sense of enjoyment and fulfillment that the people I met seem to get from their everyday work. Huge thanks go to the whole team at the Poverty Alliance for giving me this opportunity.