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