Group chat

Selfie no. 372

We recently recruited 14 young people from six countries for a reporting programme, and before they’d even met, the WhatsApp group was buzzing. When we did get them together for an intense five days in London, they seemed to form a tight-knit group within 24 hours. By departure day, the WhatsApp group was filling with heart-eyed emojis, group selfies and emotional farewells as they prepared to return to four different continents.

Apart from the emojis, it was similar to an experience I had 10 years ago, when 30 of us from different European countries got flown to Berlin for an EU-funded youth journalism scheme. That short trip led to some of us creating our own joint project the following year – planning it over multiple Skype calls from our respective countries – and a few lasting friendships. (Plus, apparently, at least one romantic encounter.) Continue reading “Group chat”

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Surgery, personal obsessions, and artist dates: three things this month

charisse-kenion-502626-unsplash (1)Here’s my new more-or-less monthly update: sharing three things – a person, idea, story, event or something else – that have grabbed me and that I think people should know about.

Not exactly brain surgery

Another day, another phone interview. This one stood out though: over a fairly crackly phone line – from an echoing meeting room in central London to a Bangalore hospital – Devi Shetty told me he’d just finished a heart operation and seen around 60 patients that day. “It’s energising”, the 60-something year-old told me. “Where else do you get to interact with that many people?” Continue reading “Surgery, personal obsessions, and artist dates: three things this month”

Real-world work experience 

At the Impact Collective — the network of social impact consultants I work with — we’ve published a new case study outlining what we did for the national charity The Challenge.

The Challenge describes itself as a national charity aiming to ‘build a more integrated society’. Its founders set up the National Citizen Service, a government-funded programme that brings together 15-17 year-olds from different schools/backgrounds; to date, 400,000 young people have taken part. I met some of them two years ago while facilitating a few NCS workshops in photography/video; the workshops involve not only practising a new skill but also using it to engage with the wider community: elderly people, adults with special needs or young children.

Anyway, at the Impact Collective we helped The Challenge to deliver another project, which focuses on a reform of the UK’s technical education curriculum. Continue reading “Real-world work experience “

Talking it out

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The guys have their say

Working with London schools and colleges is one way to appreciate this city’s diversity.

While preparing Exposure’s latest podcast on gender and feminism, participants talked about their family lives, and inevitably got onto discussing how culture and upbringing affects your views of a woman’s role in the world.

It made for an interesting debate: we had one young person who’d grown up in Iraq and Sweden, another raised in Zambia by his grandmother, two with an Asian parent, one Jamaica-born Christian, one daughter of a Rastafarian, another whose dad was Algerian. Continue reading “Talking it out”

Cats and volcanologists

gilles-desjardins-684652-unsplashOne of the social media groups I use is for freelance women journalists. For all Facebook’s flaws, the group is brilliant: like an open-plan office with none of the irritations and all the companionship of 4000+ colleagues who’ll always deliver on requests for advice, feedback, sympathy, or last-minute contacts. Those shout-outs for contacts appear every day. “Looking for local post offices that still have a resident cat”, writes one. “Does anyone know a media-friendly volcanologist?” “I’m looking for a woman aged 30+ who showers at least twice a day. The more the better.” (These were all real requests. They all got multiple responses.) Continue reading “Cats and volcanologists”

Blogger’s guilt

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Everyone loves a list

If it’s easy to start blogging these days, it’s even easier to stop. Or at least to pause.

So many reasons: not enough time (I’ll do it when that deadline is over); other priorities (I need to focus my attention/writing brain on something else right now); perfectionism (there’s no point in posting something mediocre); lack of fresh ideas (there’s nothing exciting me to write at the moment); unconvinced of the payback (it won’t make any difference if I wait a bit longer). Continue reading “Blogger’s guilt”

Let’s take this offline

Four years ago, I spent a Friday night travelling up and down the Northern Line, filming people trying to talk to strangers on the Tube.

The gathering was organised by Barbara, the sister of a Portuguese friend. Tired of Londoners burying themselves in their phones and ignoring each other, she wanted to create an offline space where people would have real-life conversations. The Tube party was a starting point; I didn’t quite get how her venture, Offline London, would work in practice or who might pay for it. But I liked the concept, liked the people, and thought filming might be fun. (It was. We were buzzing for hours afterwards.)

Continue reading “Let’s take this offline”

A tried and tested format for group media projects

Last week we wrapped up a short project at the Compton School in Barnet, north London, just in time for International Women’s Day. Our group was smaller than usual, but super organised and very capable. Their final piece explored political representation, the pay gap, reproductive rights and period poverty.

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Exposure has been producing these type of group projects (known as Exposure Asks) for several years, working with dozens of young people and covering anything from exam stress to modern slavery.

So what makes this format work so well? Continue reading “A tried and tested format for group media projects”

Stories from Hong Kong & Ho Chi Minh

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Pioneers Post, the UK’s social enterprise magazine, recently published two stories from my Asia trip late last year.

In Hong Kong, I spoke to the chair of a £50 million government fund that aims to support innovative solutions to poverty and inequality, hung out at the social impact hub GoodLab, and had dinner at the social enterprise iBakery (Hong Kong: why even wealthy societies need social entrepreneurs). Continue reading “Stories from Hong Kong & Ho Chi Minh”

Starting positive

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Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

The charity sector can feel a bit gloomy at times. Shrinking budgets and ever more competition for funding, tighter regulations, and more time spent reporting than doing.

And yet what draws many people (including me) to the sector in the first place is an optimistic streak, a belief in human power to change things for the better.

So it was refreshing to look on the brighter side again for a recent article — and nope, it wasn’t too difficult to come up with five reasons charities can be cheerful this year. Continue reading “Starting positive”