I am Molly Meakin and I am going into my third year at Middlesex University, doing a placement at Jubilee Debt Campaign for six weeks. My aim is to gain work experience, with the NGOS; develop my research skills, doing something that is related to my course of study and to know what’s happening around the world and the social issues within our contemporary society. My job has been to carry out community research on how they interact with each other, the facilities that are available for them to use, also the issues that they might be facing. I am analysing the language used in the organisation and in their campaign materials, observing how they do their work, conduct a meetings, communicate with each and how they deal with social issues, and engage with the local communities. I am also looking at what sort of media they use to share the message and how do people understand their message, is it accessible? To do this I have interviewed people, had one to one chats with the staff about what they do and attended workshops.
Week 1 – the meaning of social justice. I looked through their website to see all the information and their campaign materials, emailed me their new strategy documents. The campaign materials, such as postcards, t-shirts written on Drop the debts, to look through their emails, attending meetings and one to one chat with the staff in order to be familiar with the organisation. I have spoken to all the staff which helped me to understand more about jubilee debt campaign and what the organisation does, their aims and goals hoping to achieve.
Week 2 – the language of social justice. To analyse the language of the campaign materials of my organisation, after looking through their campaign materials he information is clear, accessible, they use pictures for people to understand the meaning of their campaign. The website is updated with new information, my supervisor checks if there’s any difficult word to be put in simple English. They have also put all the definitions of words that they use online. There are also weekly meetings to reflect on the work that we have been doing, feedback and share ideas. I also attended the workshop at Global Justice Now with our tutors and 3 other students. We had a discussion of what we have been doing and we were taught how to do community research. Each one of us explained the work of the organisation and what we have been doing.
Week 3 – mapping communities. This week I was researching local communities that are near the office, and seeing if they have any link to Jubilee Debt Campaign. After having a discussion with the team, we made a plan on what to do and areas to visit. I found that my organisation is not linked to any local communities, although they work carry out joint work with War on Want who are close by. There is less connection to the local area because they work on government debts not with the individual’s debts, but in future they may work on individual’s debts, such as student debts and UK debt. Also, they are organising a festival called The Spark within the area in Whitechapel which will connect people who have similar interests.
Week 4 – mapping communities. I used Google, the Office of National Statistics and help from the staff in conducting my research. I also visited places to get first-hand information, leaflets with information, I went to City College which is 5 minutes’ walk from the office, I spoke to the lawyer of the school regarding the problems that they had and what’s happening now. After I went to Hackney Library where communities use the library to borrow books, DVD’s, for an after school club, accessing internet and computers, and summer activities, and all of it’s free of charge. I gained permission from the people that I was interviewing and explained the aim of my research.
Week 5 – encountering communities and workshop at War on Want. I attended the workshop at War on Want, did a presentation on how I researched on local communities and everything went very well. My tutors told me that my presentation was excellent plus the other 3 students.
Week 6 – The Spark festival in Whitechapel. Week 6 is my last week at the office. I attended The Spark, a free social justice festival, which lasts for the whole week. Its aim is to bring people together who care about social justice. It was well organised, lots of people attended, I attended four sessions where we discussed what is social justice and campaigning, we shared knowledge and experiences about social issues that we are facing in our daily lives, the social change, how individuals can make a difference by coming together to make social change and how system can change through action. I learned a lot about politics, poverty, autism, and life experience. It was great to be able to meet people with autism to understand the illness in depth how it affects them, how they feel. It makes you appreciate life and what you have. I was a touched listening to two ladies especially the young one. Also the ATD Fourth World presented their workshop very well. It recognises the contribution of people in poverty. People for having control of how they are represented in social media and how they see them. They want to be valued and treated with respect.
Lastly I would recommend the placement to other students, it’s really good to work with this organisation, they are very helpful, taught me a lot, I learned things that I didn’t know before and gained my confidence. I am able to explain to people about the work of Jubilee Debt Campaign and the work of NGOs and the better understanding of financial crisis.