British Red Cross - On a final note

As mentioned in previous posts, my current task for my BRC work placement is to design the next issue of the Local Life newsletter. My supervisors suggested that I complete this task from home as I am able to log in to the system from anywhere as long as I have my log-in details with me. Therefore, after a few technical difficulties I managed to log in to the system and begin working on the design. Over the past week, this has been my main focus as I wish to create a final product that is both true to the BRC's brand image but also colourful and engaging for their readers. Therefore, my greatest task with the design is to stick to the branding brief whilst attempting to create something slightly more colourful and visually aesthetic than their previous products I have seen. 

Design is a skill that I have previously tried my hand at during my role with Impact magazine as I have had to create posters and images for social media. However, I have never taken on a project as large-scale as this newsletter and with such specific requirements regarding the colours, font, image sizing etc. It is safe to say that I had underestimated the time-scale it would take to undergo a project that may seem small (12 page newsletter) but is in fact a much larger project than I had anticipated. A design meeting has been set for Wednesday 18th May, which is the deadline I am working towards. In that meeting I will be able to show my supervisors what I have completed and will hopefully receive constructive criticism on what needs to be altered. In order to meet this deadline, I have set aside a certain amount of hours over the next couple of days so that I can present a finalised product on Wednesday. 

Another tactic I have found helpful whilst working on the design, is researching other design projects online. Pinterest.com has become my new best friend. On this website I have searched for alternative design projects in order to find inspiration for my own design. This has been truly helpful although I must be careful not to copy the designs I find completely.

A reflection on my time at BRC
I have learnt a great deal during my time at the BRC. One of the main aspects of knowledge I wished to gain during my work placement was an understanding of the management of a charity. As a worldwide organisation, their must be a well established management team in order to ensure that the organisation is successful in  achieving it's goals. This is an area of knowledge I have most definitely built on during my time at the BRC. 

It is safe to say that my work placement took place during an unstable and slightly uncomfortable stage at the BRC. Due to structural changes within the organisation, a great deal of staff remained uncertain of whether they would be able to keep their jobs as many others had been made redundant. This became noticeable to me as I saw a change in environment from when I first entered the office in January to my latter visits in March, April and May.

In addition to this, these structural changes evidently affected my work placement as my initial supervisor was no longer in charge of our project after the first two weeks of our placement. Thereafter, Fran and I were supervised by Emily*, a truly pro-active, hard-working and kind woman who I would love to work with in the future. It has been a pleasure working with her as she made me feel very much at home in the office and encouraged me take the initiative during my placement. However, due to the change in supervisor, I did feel a greater amount of pressure in regards to the completion of the newsletter. Fran and I had gone from helping out with a few articles to being in charge of completing the majority of articles as well as the design. It is safe to say this was an unexpected adjustment as we had been given much more responsibility than had initially been planned. The increased amount of work necessary to complete a final project meant that Fran and I had to tactically arrange who would take on what parts of the newsletter. Due to my editorial experience, I had a good understanding of this process and we came to the conclusion that Fran would focus on creating the content for the newsletter whilst I would oversee the design process. This worked out very well due to our alternative university schedules which we were able to work around. 

Another factor I have picked up on during my time at BRC is the importance of branding for their organisation. As a Media and Communications student, I have learnt about the semiotic nature of branding and how it can affect the public's understanding of a brand. However, I found it truly interesting to see the aspects of branding in action. The initial values and intentions of the Red Cross are evident in all aspects of their work as they attempt to remain impartial, reliant and international. Therefore, the organisation is very careful of the products it produces as they must reflect the same principles worldwide. In addition to this, the Red Cross foundation is very protective of it's emblem. This is due to the organisation's work in high-risk war zones, where their emblem serves as a protective sign so their members are able to help those in need in high-risk areas without being harmed. I found this truly inspiring - the fact a sign as simple as a red cross can serve as the determining factor between life and death for a human being.

In my following project I will examine the relationship between the BRC and the refugee crisis as this is an area I am truly interested in, however I have not managed to explore it during my work placement. I have spoken to my supervisors regarding this project and they explained they would be willing to provide me with certain contacts in order to conduct an interview with a refugee. Also, they mentioned it would be possible for me to sit in on a Refugee Support evening in order to see exactly what the organisation does to help local refugees. I am looking forward to begin working on this project. However, for now I am focusing on the newsletter design. 



British Red Cross Placement - Back in the office

As I have finally finished handing in my Dissertation, I am now able to focus on my work placement and begin working towards the deadlines set for the newsletter. My fellow placement colleague, Fran, has been very busy with creating content for the newsletter and now it is my responsibility to put together these articles and create the final product, i.e. the newsletter.

I have a substantial amount of experience with designing posters, presentations and images for social media due to my role with Impact Magazine as the Managing Editor. Therefore, I am looking forward to building on these skills as well as utilising my knowledge of branding to create a newsletter that meets the brief provided by British Red Cross but also gives me an opportunity to be creative.

Today, I had a meeting scheduled at 2pm with my supervisors and the staff responsible for the creation and distribution of the newsletter. Therefore, I arrived in the office slightly early in order to catch up on the content that has been created for the newsletter whilst I was away. In the meeting, I had a few questions regarding the creative freedom I was allowed whilst putting the content together as I have learnt during my time at BRC that their branding is an integral part of the organisation. However, my supervisors told me that due to the possibility of this being the last newsletter of its kind, I was allowed much more creative freedom than has usually been allowed. However, I am aware that I must take into consideration the regulations regarding the BRC brand such as colours and font.

I am glad I have been given the opportunity to be involved with the creation of this newsletter as I am interested in a career in brand management. Therefore, I have found learning about the BRC's brand management exceptionally interesting. As explained in previous posts, at the beginning of my placement it was required that I complete an online learning course. During that course I learnt about the origins of the BRC and what the organisations values are. I think that this knowledge will benefit me whilst designing the newsletter seeing as I am able to pay attention to these values as I assemble the content in a way that reflects the BRC's image, values and intentions.



British Red Cross Placement - Clashing Deadlines

Today is the fourth time I have visited the BRC office for my work placement. I am well aware of my surroundings and enjoy coming in to the office.

My last correspondence with my supervisor was regarding the deadlines for the Local Life newsletter, that a fellow CLAS student (Fran) and I are working on. Due to the reconstructions within the organisation that I mentioned in previous blog posts, Fran and I have been given much more responsibility regarding the completion of the newsletter. Unfortunately, the article deadline for the newsletter clashes with my dissertation deadline. I was worried this would cause inconveniences both for my employer as well as add additional stress to my workload whilst working on my dissertation. Therefore I contacted my supervisor, explained my situation and asked whether I could focus on fewer articles at this time. She was very understanding and explained that she was aware that this may occur because I was able to let her know at the beginning of my placement that I would have very limited availability during April to work on the articles. Therefore we decided that I would focus on 2 – 3 articles at this time and in May I would be able to work on the design and distribution of the newsletter.

My task for today is to complete the three articles that I have been set. This includes a brief overview on the Practice English Learn First Aid sessions held in the BRC Derby centre, which aim to provide refugees and people new to the UK with support and advice on what to do in an emergency. The second article did not require much work as it was a press release from the BRC Communications team regarding the BRC’s partnership with the Co-Op which aim to target loneliness and isolation, especially of the elderly. The final article, which I am currently working on, is an account of a fundraising challenge completed by a volunteer in November 2015. The challenge consisted of running, walking and cycling for 11 hours, 11 minutes and 11 seconds in order to raise money for both the BRC and Royal British Legion on Remembrance Day. The completion of these articles require editing skills, attention to detail and an ability to extract and reword from the information I have been given.

It is a shame that I am not able to work on more articles, especially the article I had planned on researching myself – A Day in the Life of a Refugee / Asylum Seeker. However, I plan on focusing on the topic of Refugees for my final project for this CLAS work placement module. So I am sure I will have another chance to learn more about the BRC’s work with refugees and asylum seekers.

That's all for now,


British Red Cross Placement - Second day at work

I had a very interesting day today in the British Red Cross office. The day started with a meeting with two members of staff, Emily*, the Youth and Diversity Manager and Stuart*, who is in charge of the Local Life newsletter. They explained to me that due to the major reconstruction that the organisation is undergoing, the member of staff that I was initially supposed to work closely will no longer be overseeing this project. Many staff members are now at risk of reduced hours or even being declared redundant. This means that the atmosphere in the office may be rather sensitive at times. Emily explained to me that I may face challenges whilst gathering stories for the newsletter because of this. Local Life is a newsletter which is meant to showcase the positive news within the organisation, but obviously some people may find it difficult to contribute stories on a positive note if they are at risk of loosing their job. However, I am not one to shy away from a challenge sand see this as a really interesting opportunity to see and understand how a charity organisation functions.
During this meeting we ran over the stories that had been discussed in the previous meeting, a story that caught my attention was the Day in the Life of a Refugee. However, Emily suggested that we do a piece on an asylum seeker instead, or even a comparison piece. I was then asked if I knew the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee (probably due to my puzzled expression). Emily and Stuart explained to me that an asylum seeker is a person who has fled their home country because their life is in danger. They seek asylum, i.e. safety, in other countries such as the UK. However, the process of seeking asylum can take anything from weeks up to years. The difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee is that refugee's have been granted temporary stay in the country they have travelled to. What interested me the most about this, is the fact that the news media does not distinguish between the two labels. I have learnt from my university studies, that this can lead to a confused understanding of the terms amongst the general public. I offered to cover this piece as I would am very interested in hearing from an actual refugee and asylum seeker about their personal experiences of those labels.

The rest of the day was spent going over some final paperwork about my time with the Red Cross and what is expected of me and what I aim to achieve during my work placement. Thereafter, once my fellow CLAS work placement partner (Fran) arrived, we began to go over the articles that we need to begin working on and divided them between us. Unfortunately, Fran had to leave early, so after she left I created a spreadsheet with all the features that we had just discussed with space for notes on each piece as well as action points. I was able to save this on the shared hard drive so that we can both access the document any time we are in the office. From my editorial experience, I have learnt that spreadsheets like this are not only helpful, they are crucial in order for everyone to be able to work efficiently without confusion due to the lack of communication.
I'll return to the office next Friday for a meeting with the Fundraising manager, who is also helping with the creation of Local Life. Im sure it will be a very busy day!
*Names have been changed for privacy reasons


British Red Cross Placement - First Impressions

Today marked the beginning of my placement in Internal Publications at British Red Cross.
Once I arrived at the office, I was introduced to the staff members, who all gave me a warm welcome and prompted me not to hesitate to ask questions when needed. My fellow placement partner, Fran arrived shortly after me and we were given to short tour around the building and a briefing of the fire exit and office regulations. 
We were then guided to a meeting room by a familiar face, Adam*, who interviewed us both. In the meeting we met the staff members, Lauren* and Stuart*, responsible for creating the newsletter that Fran and I will be assisting with. The newsletter is a 12 page, seasonal, print publication called Local Life which showcases the work of those who volunteer for British Red Cross and any issues or events related to the organisation. The Local Life publication that Fran and I will be assisting with is catered towards Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire, however in the meeting, Adam explained to us that the BRC is undergoing several changes and that Cheshire will no longer be a county that this BRC outlet covers. Due to these changes, there is a possibility that the Local Life publication that we help publish, may be the last of it’s kind.

Thereafter, we discussed the potential stories we could include in the issue as well as the stories that had already been confirmed. I was allocated certain stories to look into, such as; Independent Living, the Volunteer Awards evenings in Nottingham and Derbyshire, Day in the life of.. (Refugee Service feature). After discussing the content for the newsletter, we ran over the deadlines that must be met. This all felt very familiar to me due to my experience with Impact and my position as Editor in Chief of the annual student publication whilst I was in college. I believe that my previous experience in publications will assist me in this role as I have a good understanding of the process.

Due to technicalities and a very specific procedure that staff members must undergo, I won’t be able to have access to the IT system until my application has been thoroughly checked. Therefore, I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying lunch with my colleagues and completing an E-Learning course on the British Red Cross. During lunch I had a very interesting conversation with Emily*, the Youth Engagement and Diversity officer. She explained to me that her role consists of engaging and recruiting young members, such as myself, volunteers etc. Emily is also involved in promoting and encouraging Diversity within the organisation. She explained that her role is fairly new, and that it had come about due to the notion that the British Red Cross is perceived as a predominantly white, middle class organisation. I thought this was truly interesting, as it was not something I had been aware of. Emily argued that this perception was not entirely true, therefore her task was to promote the diversity within her locality. After lunch, as I looked around the office, it became apparent to me that the majority of staff members were in fact white and possibly middle class (although that is not always something you can judge from first sight). This made me question if the perception that the BRC is a predominantly white, middle class organisation, was true?

After lunch I began the E-Learning course, a standard procedure that all staff members must undergo. The course was very informational and interesting, it consisted of several modules; History of British Red Cross, Health and Safety, Fire Hazard information, Information on the Emblem etc. What interested me the most on this course was the fundamental principles of the BRC; Universality, Unity, Neutrality, Voluntary Service, Impartiality, Humanity, Independence. The British Red Cross was founded on these core values in mid 1800s and they have followed the development of the organisation throughout all this time. It became very evident to me that these fundamental principles still remain within the organisation and influence every aspect of how it functions. The following video was included in the E-learning module and I found it truly interesting to see how the fundamental values from the 1800s are still evident in the organisation's work today.

Next week I will go to the office Tuesday afternoon, I should be able to get started on the stories for the newsletter then. I look forward to it!


*Names have been changed for privacy reasons



Svoltið langt síðan að ég bloggaði seinast. Það koma alltaf tímabil þar sem maður veit ekki lengur hvað maður á að blogga um og hættir að finna til tíma til að skrifa einhverjar skemmtilegar færslur. En þar sem ég er búin í prófum, komin í sumarfrí og byrja ekki að vinna alveg strax.. þá finnst mér það tilvalið að byrja að blogga á ný.

Mér datt í hug að gera bloggfærslu um eina bók sem ég las nýlega og aðra sem er á óskalistanum hjá mér. Að mínu mati er það nauðsynlegt að taka bók með sér í fríið, hvort sem þú sért að fara á ströndina eða bara uppí bústað. Það er eitthvað svo huggulegt við það að lesa í sólinni með kaffibolla eða kokteil við hönd.. (krossa fingur að veðrið breytist hérna á íslandi!)

Americanah eftir Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, ótrúlega áhrifaríkur höfundur sem skrifaði meðal annars Half of a Yellow Sun og Purple Hibiscus. Chimamanda er höfundur frá nígeríu og mikil jafnréttissinni. Bókin Americanah fjallar um konu frá Nígeríu sem hefur verið búsett í bandaríkjunum í áratugi og ástarsagan á milli hennar og manns sem hún hefur ekki hitt síðan að hún flutti til Bandaríkjana. En það sem gerir bókin svo áhugaverða er umfjöllunin á kynþáttafordómum og femínísk málefni sem blandast inní söguna. Bókin verður breytt í bíómynd bráðlega og heyrst hefur að leikkonan Lupita Nyong´o mun framleiða bíómyndina og mögulega leika aðalhlutverkið í myndinni.. spennandi! Mæli eindregið með þessa bók!

I know why the caged bird sings eftir Maya Angelou (gefin út árið 1969). Maya var höfundur, baráttumanneskja í réttindabaráttu blökkumanna, skáld, kennari og ein áhrifaríkasta kona 20 aldar. Maya lést þó fyrir stuttu síðan en skilur eftir sér fjölda margar bækur sem einkennast meðal annars af ævisögu hennar, þá sérstaklega erfiða barnæsku hennar þar sem henni var misþyrmt af kærasta móður sinnar ásamt fleiri hræðinlegum upplifunum. Bókin I know why the caged bird sings fylgir lífið hennar Maya frá því að hún var 3 ára þangað til að hún verður 16 ára og eins barna móðir og fjallar aðallega um upplifanir hennar sem ung svört kona í suðurríkjunum á 20 öld. Þessi bók er efst á leslistanum hjá mér.

Hér er þáttur frá Oprah með Maya Angelou, en þær voru góðar vinkonur og Oprah leit mikið upp til hennar. Skylduáhorf! :)

Chanel xx