Morning everyone – it’s a chilly one here in Glasgow, I hope you’re all cosy warm today.
Today is Day 9 and the prompt is:
November 9, 2013
Which cause is closest to your heart and why?
I’ve been looking forward to this one!
I’m quite an emotional person and by that I don’t mean that I cry at sad adverts, but I brood on things and can get quite affected by it. The thing is that I’m also a person who can’t sit down and relax, I am always doing something. A natural activist as it were. I’m also very politically engaged, I’m frequently found away on a demo and I’m a proud socialist.
Primarily I would say that the cause closest to my heart is feminism. I started university as a 20 year old single Mum in 2002 and it didn’t take long for me to find my way to the student association. I became the Women’s Officer in 2nd year and ran campaigns including a campus-based Reclaim The Night march. Eventually I was elected to a position with NUS Scotland‘s women’s committee which I loved, I felt like I’d found my true calling.
Now that I am a student again I’ve fallen back into activism. Last year I was the Student President of my College which meant that on top of studying full time, being on placement two days a week, working and being a wife & Mum I was also negotiating the merger of our college with two others. I sat on my college’s board and on the merger board, and with the help of the Student Presidents from the two other college we negotiated a brand new, autonomous, staffed and well-funded student association which was a massive step-change from what we were working with ourselves. I’m so proud to say that my successors have been doing an amazing job!
In April I was elected onto the executive committee for NUS Scotland, as a convener for the Community Network. This means I work on issues with affect wider communities and society – my area of interest is on positive destinations for looked after young people, how can colleges and universities make sure that students who have been in care are supported to be able to complete their studies. I won’t lie, it’s challenging and in the most part that’s because I am a voluntary officer so I fit this in amongst studying and working and family life but we got a big win this week thanks to an amazing officer who came to one of my workshops in August and really understood what we were trying to do. That’s the best feeling ever.
I genuinely believe that education is the key. I watched this amazing speech by Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns – he says that the “Glasgow Effect” – ie, Glasgow’s astonishingly poor health statistics comparitive with any other city – is a poverty issue and that early intervention is part of the solution. I believe that he is right, and that education arms people with the skills to change their lives. Currently, young people who have been in care are more likely to see the inside of a prison cell than the inside of a university and that is what I want to change. One step at a time, one opinion at a time. Changing hearts and minds to change lives. That’s what is closest to my heart.
If you live in Scotland and are touched by what I have said today, please click this link and take the Who Cares? Scotland pledge to listen to children in care. This is an anti-stigma campaign being run by the only organisation in Scotland working directly with care-experienced young people, they are mind-blowingly fantastic.
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