Hard-working networks

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The original networking site

I’ve been doing some writing for the European Commission’s EURES website, which aims to encourage jobseekers to take up opportunities in other countries. The blog posts are for the (somewhat oddly-named) Drop’pin blog, which targets 16-30 year-olds in EU and neighbouring countries.

A fairly broad audience then – and, being based in the UK, the challenge is to tackle a topic in a way that’s useful not only to readers in this country.

Experience of living abroad makes you aware of things that are country-specific, though (e.g. appreciating that the charity sector isn’t necessarily as developed elsewhere). Working in international teams is perhaps the best training for writing in plain English – better leave out those dazzling turns of phrase or idioms. And language skills help too, of course – for example, getting speedy responses from a source in Berlin for a piece on accessing the creative industries.

The harder, more time-consuming part is finding the right contacts in the first place. Continue reading “Hard-working networks”

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Cross-border collaboration

Outside the Regional Centre for Accommodation and Procedures for Asylum Seekers, Bucharest
Outside the Regional Centre for Accommodation and Procedures for Asylum Seekers, Bucharest

The series on youth opportunities I produced last year with Romanian TV journalist, Lorelei Mihala, is being published in instalments on Cafe Babel (appropriately, a magazine published in multiple languages and aimed at young Europeans).

We were funded by the Council of Europe, as part of a programme aimed at getting more diversity into the media – hence our focus on young migrants and refugees in both cities, London and Bucharest.

It was a difficult project. Continue reading “Cross-border collaboration”

Social enterprise: halfway to mainstream?

The UK arguably leads the world in its support for social enterprise – and is keen to position itself as such, from putting social investment high on the agenda of its G8 presidency in 2013 to inviting other nations to learn from what we’re doing.

I covered the latter – during a British Council-hosted visit for EU policy-makers – for the Guardian’s social enterprise hub last month, and heard how countries like Croatia, in the midst of finalising its own first social entrepreneurship, are hungry to learn from UK policy-makers’ 15 or so years’ experience in this area.

In this country, social enterprises employ over 2 million people (more than the financial and insurance industries combined!) and contribute at least £55bn to the economy; this is also birthplace of the world’s first social impact bond, an innovation that’s spreading slowly further afield. Continue reading “Social enterprise: halfway to mainstream?”

Young voices – Bucharest to London

My exchange partner Lorelei and I are finally finishing up our joint project, part of the Council of Europe’s work to encourage more diversity in the media.  Our full piece is coming soon; in the meantime, here’s a little preview – thanks to Iqraa (Somali) in London and Kiki (from Nigeria) in Bucharest – of what we talked about.

Continue reading “Young voices – Bucharest to London”

Shapes of the future

Staying in the zone at lunchtime: food looks different depending on what future you’re in
Staying in the zone at lunchtime: food looks different depending on what future you’re in

There’s something very powerful about the idea of citizens driving change.

Because, at whatever level – from organising as a community to keep a local library open, to leading the mass protest that topples a government – it’s a reminder that we don’t need to wait for heroes to change things, just someone like you or I, who’s sufficiently pissed off to do something about it.

But even if there are some great examples of user or citizen-driven ideas (and even if ‘entrepreneur’ has become an acceptable job title for a 21-year-old), there’s no guarantee that citizens will push for changes that make for a more sustainable future. Continue reading “Shapes of the future”

A hell of a to-do list: 2014 in development

We may need it all
We may need it all

What’s in store this year for international development?

Here’s a bit of a preview, drawing from various publications (not very scientifically selected – mostly, those daring enough to make predictions). It’s also somewhat weighted to areas of my own interest – hence the Europe/Africa focus. (The great danger of the Internet: instead of widening your knowledge, you simply find evidence to back up your own theories.) Continue reading “A hell of a to-do list: 2014 in development”

Common goals

EU brochure on MDGsFreelancing on different projects all the time has one big downside: you’re pulled in only for a certain phase of the project’s life cycle, and once you’ve done your bit you’re often unaware of where your work has ended up, and what impact it might have had.

So it’s good to see the European Commission’s publication on the Millennium Development Goals out – just in time for the UN Summit last week. I had also edited their 2010 version (available, for now, here). This year, we struggled again to keep our clients down to the word limit – crowded pages with not enough white space just don’t work for a product aimed at a wider public – and ended up adding more pages. But it worked out ok, and the final editorial quality is better this time, probably due to fewer Commission folk making changes, and thankfully, a certain amount of trust in my suggestions. It also helped, no doubt, to have a first version to start from, with a format that could easily be updated. Continue reading “Common goals”