Friday, 30 July 2010

Green light for Start

Promoting and celebrating sustainable living.

As you may well know, HRH The Prince of Wales, was waving the green flag long before it was considered mainstream and is still leading the environmental agenda today. The Prince's Charities Foundation has recently set up a national initative, called Start, to help people across the UK not only live more sustainably, but also get excited about what a sustainable future may look like. Instead of playing the strict parent, and forbidding the naughty children from flying or eating meat, Start focuses on the personal and positive oppotunities that arise from living sustainably.

Speaking at the launch of Start in Manchester, February 2010, The Prince of Wales said

'Far too few talk about the potential for a sustainable future to be better and more rewarding - both for us and for Nature - than the lives we lead now. This potential needs to be communicated across the country and, indeed, across the world.'
IBM, one of Start's partners, is leading a nine day summit in September, where business leaders can come together to discuss sustainability. The summit will be taking place in the very fancy Lancaster House, alongside Start's 'Garden Party to Make a Difference'.

The Prince of Wales and UK business leaders

I, along with members of the UK Youth Parliament and IBM's young interns, have become involved in helping to plan one of these days, which focuses on young people. The 'Start Young' day will bring together over 100 young people, inspiring and connecting the future leaders of the UK and providing them with a platform to voice their ideas about a sustainable future.

The IBM Start Young day is on September 12th. Don't miss your chance to attend this great event and start a revolution! Register here by Monday 16th August.

Katie x

Friday, 23 July 2010

UNICEF UK offices uncovered!

Behind the glossy website and sleek leaflets there is a normal, friendly, biscuit-tin-stashing office…

By Mya Goschalk.

On 20th July my week’s work experience at the UNICEF UK offices began. Starting off flustered and a little late, I got stuck into helping out straight away. I was asked to research UNICEF UK’s latest campaign on sanitation and water and write a synopsis about it for the Tagd e-newsletter. I also completed a similar task a few days later for the UNICEF UK monthly Parliamentary newsletter. I drafted two articles on child rights issues- one on guardianship for child trafficking victims and the other on a campaign to stop sexual violence against children.

During my time at UNICEF UK I was pleasantly surprised at how the tasks I was given to do were genuinely needed and important. Before I went I knew that UNICEF is centred on children’s rights, but I didn’t realise that even on something such as work experience the opinions of a young person like me would be listened to so much! I was flattered at how I was asked to give my thoughts and feedback on different UNICEF UK initiatives, such as-

• The Tagd website and what could be improved about it
• What UNICEF UK should do at the stall at the Underage Festival
• Giving ideas for a project to encourage students, schools and universities to campaign

In doing all of this I really felt that in some small way I was shaping future events and projects held by UNICEF UK.

I learnt about the structure of UNICEF- how the main office in New York is connected to the different sections all over the world, with different functions for those in developed and developing countries.

Spending this time at UNICEF UK has allowed me to see what happens during the process of making campaigns and running the charity. When you see UNICEF stalls or campaigners it is hard to imagine what must happen for it to run smoothly… little did I know that planning a professional-looking stall would consist of sitting round a table chatting about ideas and eating cake!

I would really encourage anyone who is interested in child rights, or development to get involved with UNICEF. There are so many ways to do this, and some ideas are - volunteering, work experience or campaigning on issues from the Tagd website.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Work experience with UNICEF - the insider's view!

Josie's view
Hey, my name is Josie. I’ve just finished doing my AS levels at school - which means it’s come to that terrifying time in life when I have to decide what I want to do with my future! I’ve always been interested in working for UNICEF, or something similar, because I really want to work abroad and generally make a difference. So, when I saw on the UNICEF website that you could do work experience with them I was really excited and applied – now I’m lucky enough to be sitting in the UNICEF UK office telling you all about it! And funnily enough someone else had the same idea…

Lucia's view
Hi, my name is Lucia. I was lucky enough to finish my GCSEs before the rest of my friends, meaning I had a week to do whatever I wanted before the summer holidays started! I’ve always had an interest in UNICEF and the amazing work they do all over the world. The idea of working for an organisation like UNICEF, or WHO, in the future really appeals to me so, when I saw that UNICEF UK offered work experience I was very excited!

Monday morning - Josie and I arrived at the office in London at the same time, even though we’d never met! After we finally worked out how to open the doors, we were met by Rosie, who was to be our supervisor for the week. We were shown around and introduced to everyone we’d be working with. We both felt really welcome straight away – all the team are so lovely and friendly!

Our first task was to help the media team with their epic job of going through ALL the weekend and day’s newspapers, looking for any stories relevant to UNICEF and their work. It was an interesting opportunity to get a better insight into what UNICEF UK is really involved in. This took quite a while! When we were done, we were asked to help organise and research data about MPs. It felt satisfying to help as this information is going to be used in UNICEF UK’s efforts to implement the Robin Hood Tax.

The next day started again with media monitoring, and would for the rest of the week. This didn’t matter – it never got boring – there were interesting stories every day, although it took some effort to find them! We then were asked to brainstorm ideas for the up-and-coming Underage Festival where UNICEF UK will be having a stall trying to encourage more young people to join Tagd and sign the petition for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We were also asked for any feedback on Tagd. Honestly, this was quite a scary and challenging task, but it felt really good that our input was valued and, even as young people, our ideas were useful. Another exciting job on Tuesday was writing an article for Tagd about the current crisis in Kyrgyzstan.

Wednesday was mostly spent helping out Jazmin, who works on climate change. We searched the web to compile a list of blogs all about the environment, for UNICEF UK’s use in the future.

We’ve been working so hard this week that we kind of ran them out of things for us to do on Thursday morning. We tried to show some initiative by posting the MDG campaign, and link to the petition on Facebook so that our friends could get involved. You should do the same – it really makes a difference!! Our day soon livened up though, with a meeting all about UNICEF’s work in Yemen. It was fascinating to find out about the extent of the problems faced in our world, and the way UNICEF works tirelessly to solve them. The rest of the afternoon we worked again on the climate change campaign by assessing the Tagd campaign and resources, doing some more data work for the Robin Hood Tax and writing this!

We can’t believe that our time here is ending now! It’s been such a brilliant experience - getting such an insight into the work of UNICEF UK; feeling useful; and generally being motivated to support UNICEF’s campaigns and efforts more in the future, as we’ve seen how much hard work goes into them and the genuine effect they have.

If you would like to do work experience at UNICEF UK then check out these work experience pages on the UNICEF website.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

More from Vienna

Hiya again, it's Eliis catching up on the Pre-Conference. Each day has been pretty full on with information and sessions, starting every morning with an overview of what to expect.

Our first day seemed to go on for ages, but following this each day got easier and became routine. I tried to attend the most relevant sessions for me and for the projects I’m involved in. I only wish I could have made all of them, but there were too many sessions, so I had to make a choice! Here are a few I found were particularly inspiring or just enjoyable;

Vienna is just beautiful and has many old style features. I’ve had very few chances to really explore the city, but my adventures to restaurants have been wonderful. Every building opens up with a surprise out the back, most commonly magnificent gardens.

At the moment it’s just Carly and I preparing information and notes for the main conference. We can’t wait to get involved, things can only get better.

Blog to you all soon, remember “Now Make It Happen”

News from Vienna

Hi Guys,
The Youth Pre-Conference has been incredible! Over 200 people from 95 countries, the energy and enthusiasm has been relentless, as is the heat! It has been a great opportunity to network with so many passionate and motivated young people, with fresh ideas and initiatives.
So, what is the Vienna Youth Force? VYF aims to build youth leadership for a sustainable response to HIV and AIDS. The Pre-Conference provided a global platform for international, regional and local youth organisations concerned with promoting sexual reproduction and health rights and HIV and AIDS. These groups prepared activities and advocacy campaigns for us (the youth participants) to attend with the ultimate goal of empowering us to advocate for the Millennium Development Goals and Universal Access to HIV medicines.
Each day has been jam packed with 5 sessions running at any one time – this proved difficult when you’re as indecisive as me! I tried to focus on sessions covering the following:

  • Sexuality Education for HIV Prevention
  • Models for Youth Leadership
  • Understanding the Advocacy process
  • Peer Education Programmes
Needless to say my brain capacity has been tested! Eliis will talk you through a couple of the sessions she attended here.
We’ve also been interviewing numerous people on their experience of sex education in their country and access to youth friendly and appropriate services to gain a global vision of the current issues and find out more about what young people think and consider important.
The Pre-Conference ended on a high at our closing ceremony Dance the Ribbon. Listening to Michel Sidibe (Executive Director of UNAIDS) speak here was definitely a high point, supporting the youth movement and believing in our capacity to advocate for change. The event ended with an appropriate chant of our slogan “Now Make It Happen”.
Now for the XVIII International AIDS Conference, time to release the activist in me!
Now, Make It Happen.
Will write again soon

Friday, 16 July 2010

New Beginnings

DECC Youth Advisory Panel has kicked off and is ready to make a storm!

Luke and I, through our attendance of UNICEF Children's Climate Forum in Copenhagen last December and our subsequent role as Climate Ambassadors, have been given the amazing opportunity to join the Department of Energy and Climate Change Youth Advisory Panel. The panel is made up of a group of young people, all representing their respective organisations - including Oxfam, People and Planet and the UK Youth Parliament. The role of the Youth Panel is to advise and play an active role in DECC, based on the thoughts and proposals of the youth community, whilst also relaying information from DECC out to the wider youth communities.

First set up by Ed Miliband and his team, the Youth Advisory Panel has now received the support of the new Government, in particular, Charles Hendry, a Minister of State for Energy who we met at this week's meeting. Excluding the fact that we were stuck in a stuffy dungeon of Whitehall, the meeting was really exciting and I cannot wait to get stuck into the work that we have planned for the next few months.

DECC have been busy developing a '2050 Pathways Calculator', which is a tool for calculating what needs to be done on both the demand and supply side of energy in order to reach the 80% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2050. The idea of the calculator is to develop 'energy pathways' that the UK economy could take; highlighting the choices we will have to make in the next few years.

Hopefully, the calculator will make all the statistics and targets surrounding climate change more understandable and give people a picture of what a low carbon economy will look like - both the benefits and sacrifices that we will have to make. The Youth Panel will be the first group to use the calculator and we are to compile an 'energy pathway to 2050' report, which will be published just before COP16 in Cancun, Mexico this December.

In the next few months we will be taking a number of site visits to relevant and important energy suppliers and energy plants where we can interview the workers and members of the local community. We will be trying to find out how viable each 'pathway' is, and also how it will affect our lives and the values that people hold. By posting regular video and written blogs, we hope young people (and not just the eco-warriors!) will follow our progress and participate in this massive public debate which will shape our future.

In my opinion, the DECC Youth Advisory Panel marks a huge step in decision-making history. For the first time, young people will have a recognised platform to voice their ideas, opinions and concerns. And it's about time too! It is our generation who will have to face the consequences of climate change and enforce the decisions that are made today, so we should shout out, be loud and get heard!

Follow our progress at

Katie x

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

AIDS 2010

Hi all, my name is Carly (the one on the right) and I’m a student Nurse from University of Manchester! I arrived in Vienna last night with Eliis, another young person selected for this opportunity, to attend the XVIII International AIDS conference.

I found out about this opportunity through the Student Stop AIDS Society and was lucky enough to be selected by UNICEF UK and Restless Development to attend the Youth pre-conference, the AIDS 2010 conference and a three-day advocacy training organised by Restless Development.

Inspired by a year volunteering in an East African orphanage, I applied wanting to do more to empower young people to campaign for universal access to sufficient education, treatment and care.

I believe advocacy is fundamental for change and I’m passionate about peer educating. Attending the AIDS conference in Vienna will provide knowledge, resources and networking opportunity for us to bring back to the UK to facilitate raising awareness.

This year is 10 years since world leaders made eight promises to create a fairer world. These promises, called the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs as you will probably see them called in the papers, range from eradicating poverty and hunger to halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation. One the MDGs, number 6, focuses specifically on HIV and AIDS, so I hope to find out more about the progress achieved so far at the conference.

Whilst at the conference Eliis and I will try to keep you updated of our time in Vienna, so keep an eye on this blog!

Hello, I’m Eliis (the one on the left) and I work in a sexual health clinic in Newham (East London) as a peer educator, and with the Terence Higgins Trust.

I’ve done a lot of youth work in the past and taken part in many projects on young people’s sexual health awareness and discrimination. I personally feel very close to any project to do with these issues and feel very privileged to be attending the AIDS 2010 conference in Vienna!

I’ve also been involved in World AIDS Day events in Newham and working on anti-homophobia campaigns has taken me around Europe.