Friday, 13 August 2010

Volunteering at Underage

By Georgina Johnson.

My name’s Georgina and I was a part of the volunteer team for the UNICEF Tagd stall at the Underage Festival in Victoria park, London on August 1st.

Having found out about UNICEF through a friend who had been volunteering with them for quite some time, I was eager to get involved.

Alice from UNICEF UK organised a volunteers’ briefing at their office the week before Underage. This was a chance for all the volunteers to meet, converse and generally become comfortable with one and another. It was great!

The briefing began with an icebreaker in which we each were paired with someone we didn’t know. My partner, Flo, was hilarious, which made it so much easier to talk and work together. Then Alice and Anne told us about UNICEF UK’s current campaign on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and about the 'Robin Hood Tax'.

As David Cameron will be on paternity leave (I know, awww), Nick Clegg his deputy will be attending the important MDGs review meeting at the UN in New York. UNICEF UK is promoting a petition to Nick Clegg asking for access to toilets for children all over the world. The aim for Underage was to get 1000 signatures for the petition to show the support of the public for our cause.

I must admit when I heard 1000, I was like ‘wow!’, but after meeting with the organisation and honestly feeling the positivity of each individual I was more than confident we could meet our objective.


The morning of Underage: Woke up early, had plenty of calls reminding me of the TIME and left my house earlier than ever. We met Alice outside Victoria park and once we received our state of the art 'ARENA' armbands and the UNICEF t-shirts it was official , we were a team!

Before the actual event started, we had to set up the stall, which meant having to fight with a severely stubborn blow up armchair, arranging leaflets and putting up banners. That was soon done, but then I had to experience the dreaded portaloos. Once witnessing firsthand the inside of one in all its glory, I persuaded everyone to simply hold it and wait.

As the crowds of teenagers rushed in, we all got ready for action. Approaching people was much easier than I thought. I went for the ‘normal conversation approach’ and most people reacted really positively.

We worked in teams of three and got as many signatures as we could - we all just wanted to achieve our goal! At times we ran out of fuel, but we reminded each other of what and who we were doing this for and the lovely opportunity we had been given.

I didn’t feel as though I was missing out on the actual festival, I could hear the music very clearly from where we were situated. Alice and Anne gave us equal time to each watch some of the artists we liked and I thoroughly enjoyed that. Chiddy Bang , Chase and Status and Tiny Tempah were the highlights for me. Every time a song that everyone knew came on everybody sang in chorus. It was GREAT!

Later on in the day we found out that we had smashed our target! I think at that point everyone was elated. Anne kept on saying – 'Let’s bulldoze past that 1000 target and run straight through, you can do it guys'. And we did. I think we collected around 1500 signatures. Everyone was happy, we’d all helped to make a point: Young people care.

At the end of the day we had time to watch M.I.A, an artist I have long waited to see! M.I.A, being a bit diva-ish, came a bit late, but no one cared, as soon as we heard the sirens and her voice in the distance everyone was on fire. She performed Born free and Paper Planes as her finale whilst I was pushed and shoved to the front by who knows who,
As the show came to a close I reflected on the successes of the day and smiled.

Thank you UNICEF.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Tagd at Underage Festival

William Stringer was our lucky winner of tickets to the Underage Festival. Here he writes about his day in London, and what he found out about how UNICEF puts it right for children everywhere.

By William Stringer
My name’s William and I was the lucky winner of UNICEF Tagd’s competition for tickets to the Underage Festival in Victoria Park, London on Sunday 1st August. I only found out about the competition because I was researching some information about the upcoming Millennium Development Goals being held in September.

I simply sent off my answer to the question along with some contact details; it was actually so easy that I thought I had done it wrong! Afterwards, if I’m honest, I completely forgot about the competition. I’m one of those really annoying people who go on about never winning anything. Therefore, as soon as I sent the email, I resigned myself to believing that there was no chance.

So you can imagine my shock when I got a phone call saying that I had won the tickets. I remember distinctly not really being able to form sentences together, so much was my excitement. And that’s how I came to be jetting off from Belfast to Gatwick.

Underage Festival was blessed with beautiful summer weather, thankfully no need for my summer jacket. My first port of call was the UNICEF tent which was brimming with some of the friendliest people in London, a stark contrast to the silent underground I had just travelled on. I was given a Fairtrade tote bag and, in exchange, gave them my email address to aid UNICEF’s current campaign to provide millions of children with access to proper sanitation. The tote bag came in handy as I was able to stash my jacket in and head off to listen to some music.

Haduken played an impressive set claiming we were the “maddest crowd they had played to all summer”. Dust clouds erupted from beneath worn out feet, as we danced to various musicians from Ellie Goulding to No Mean City. The atmosphere was amazing, everyone excitedly hurrying between the six stages so as not to miss any of their favourite bands. I’d like to thank UNICEF Tagd for the opportunity to go to Underage Festival - it was great fun! I urge anyone to get more involved with their work in campaigning for children’s rights and also sign their campaign action to enable children across the world to get safe water and sanitation. UNICEF Tagd got 1575 people to sign up to the action at the Festival, but they need many thousands more to get Nick Clegg to ensure a fairer future by prioritising the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Sign the action now and tell all your friends!

Why not work for UNICEF? A work experience account

Read about how Kathryn discovered a future vocation at UNICEF.

"Yesterday I think I discovered my dream job... for a while now I have been interested in a job where you can organise events".

By Kathryn

Hello, my name is Kathryn and for the past week I have been doing a weeks Work Experience at the UNICEF office in Billericay.

When our school told us in January that we must pick somewhere to do a work experience I must admit I completely panicked. I had no idea where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to be when I was older. To make things worse the majority of my friends all had very good ideas of what their futures held for them. After a lot of thought and deliberation I settled on working in an office...and then it hit me why not work for UNICEF? It is so close to my house and I had always wanted to see how a charity worked as I didn't believe it could be as simple as just sending money in and it being sent to the people who needed it. I was not mistaken.

On my first day I was nervous but everyone was so friendly I soon felt at ease. I was given a timetable informing me what I would be doing all week, and it surprised me how many different departments there were. So I spent Monday working at the Helpdesk, inputting details and then printing off letters for people. I also learnt about all the different websites that UNICEF have, and was interested to discover the Tagd website, especially for younger people.

I woke up on Tuesday morning and found myself tired, from not being used to working a 9-5 day, but still eager to work. I spent the day with Internal Services, and again everyone was really friendly and welcoming. I logged the Schools participating in Day For Change, and when I return to school in September will mention it to the Sixth Form Committee and see if they are interested. I also had to cut up ten banners to be sent off with a packet for a run, and sadly using a pair of scissors is not my strong point, but I managed and they came out fine.

A visit to Head House in London was in store for Wednesday and I was looking forward to seeing the other office. I had three meetings and learnt a lot about the different campaigns, the Rights Respecting School Award (RRSA) and alternate ways of fundraising. After eating our lunch on the balcony, in the sunshine, it was time to return to Billericay. After a delay and kerfuffle at Liverpool Street we finally caught a train and arrived back in time for me to help sort the cheques in the Donations department. After putting so many letters in envelopes the day before it was a nice change to be taking letters and cheques out. The following day I was to be putting the donations onto the system. It was lovely to see how many people were willing to donate to such a good cause.

Yesterday I think I discovered my dream job. Not only at UNICEF can you sit and look at pictures of some of the celebrity ambassadors...but in the Baby Friendly Department Karen told me all about her job which involved researching the hotels and train times for all the different courses on breast feeding around the country. It sounded amazing. For a while now I have been interested in a job where you can organise events and this sounded perfect.

Now sitting here reflecting my week, I've decided it's true what our teachers told us. "After work experience you will know what career you will want to go into." Which at the time I thought unlikely, now however I am now definitely considering working for a charity once I have hopefully been to University.

So with a huge thankyou to everyone at UNICEF who have all been so lovely and welcoming to me this week I will leave my first blog at this.

Find out more information about work experience at UNICEF.