Work Experience meets Life Experience

Dan commenced his placement with Big Issue North, hoping to gain insight into the world of journalism and communications. Instead, he left with more of an experience than he originally anticipated.

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I am currently moving towards the end of my first of two years at college, and around this time we are asked to organise Work Experience placements in a sphere of our choice. As a lover of both literature and the study of the English language, it was a natural choice for me to look into a placement in writing; and journalism appealed to me most. My school helped me find the office of Big Issue North, shadowing the fundraising & communications officer, Anna. It was a fantastic (albeit brief) experience for me and I was fortunate enough to be working in an incredibly human and interactive place, where real-life problems that we are all prone to ignoring become very relevant on a day-to-day basis. From it, I have experienced what it is really like to have a full-time job (having only ever worked weekend shifts in kitchens for extra cash), as well as what it takes for others to work under extreme pressure and deal with very challenging and sensitive issues surrounding mental health, drug and alcohol problems, homelessness, and poverty.

Howard Dan Leeds Vendor InterviewI have been at Roundhay School from the age of 11, all the way through secondary education and now into sixth form. Throughout this time I have always been passionate about the ‘Englishes’ and a career in journalism or media has always been something I have considered. With this in mind, I asked for the school to help me find a placement in that field, and was lucky enough to find myself working with Big Issue North. The placement involved helping out around the office with the fundraising & communications officer, performing various research tasks as well as going on outreaches into Leeds City Centre to speak to the vendors who sell the magazines the organisation produces. As well as having the desired academic effects the placement has had on me, it has also given me an insight into the reality of poverty. Because of this, I feel that the experience has helped me to grow as a person and has also given me a better understanding of real-life hardships that exist on the streets. I am now far more aware of the world that is outside of my social and college lives, and I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with people who really do need help and who are being provided this support by Big Issue North.

As well as having the desired academic effects the placement has had on me, it has also given me an insight into the reality of poverty.

My final day on the placement was the most outstanding when I think back. Anna and I travelled to York so as to visit an inspirational vendor named Liam at the local branch there, whilst getting interviews with donors John and Julie about their involvement in Big Issue North and the use of card readers by vendors. It was a fantastic experience as I got to listen to Liam talk in detail about his life as well as his loyalty card scheme that he so intuitively devised for Big Issue North. I was also able to meet a journalist who was conducting and filming the interviews for her local television station, and I was really pleased and grateful to be able to chat to her and get a grasp for what her job involved as it is something I am seriously considering in the future.

Dan Loveday Work Exp BIN LEEDS

My only regret about my placement is that I was unable to continue it in the long run, but I aim to one day return to help out in some shape or form and I hope to maintain contact with Anna and the other people in the office who have helped me, and to have some involvement with Big Issue North throughout my final year of college and then beyond. It has been a really enlightening and endearing experience for me in which I have been incredibly lucky to be talked through it by truly lovely people who have balanced their already tricky jobs with helping me gain valuable understanding of a new environment. I am more than grateful to Carli, Nic and Anna for taking time out of their schedules to let me work with them, and the week I have spent here will certainly benefit me in the future – whether I have a career at Big Issue North or not.

Inspired by Dan’s story?

If you would like to be involved with Big Issue North, whether you want to volunteer or embark on a placement for your school, college or university, please click here or email anna.manetta-stark@bigissueinthenorth.com to find out more.

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