My life has always been pretty stagnated.
Stuck here in my lowly hometown of Essex, rarely traveling afar to foreign waters, it's hard not to get caught in a literal rut. The most interesting moment of my day being the arrival of new History textbooks. Yep, I had quite the life...
But from the 29th October to 3rd November, I found myself working at CALM. A humorous acronym of the "Campaign Against Living Miserably", the charity focuses on the underlining issue of men's suicide in our rather stereotype obsessed society; it's a much needed cause. Considering were I live, I know first hand how contrived and restricting negative stigmas can be.
To be exact, I was placed at their general offices. Located literally behind the Tate Modern and the river Thames, to work in their bi-monthly magazine. My first placement in the publishing world.
When I arrived at the door, emblazoned with the quote "Being silent isn't being strong", I was a nervous wreck. What would my colleagues be like? Would they even like me? In lieu of my fears, I was paired with a group of exceptional people. Katie Barton (the Volunteer Co-ordinator) was the first staff member I had the pleasure of meeting. Giving me a quick tour of the setup, I was thrown head first into a meeting; observed by the founder Jane Powell. Having previously only text to describe what undergirds a magazine, it was kind of surreal to see these au courant people, pitching their articles as if it was nothing new. But to me, my god, I could only imagine working as an assistant, let alone an editor.
To be frank, my first 'assignment' was to collect a list of plectrum providers. Sound fun? It's up for debate, but considering how my only other example of work was a forced placement at a hairdressers, anything else was an improvement. Rummaging the interweb for recyclable guitar picks beats sweeping hair any day.
Obviously, I had to do the menial jobs, but even then, my colleagues, dare I say, made it enjoyable. Yes, it's actually possible for going to the post to deliver hundreds of parcels to be amusing. My guess is that, Katie, alongside the witty manager Charlie Morrison, made the whole boring crusade that little more bearable.
Thereafter, things picked up. The up and coming writer Rachel Clare gave me a few more interesting tasks to do. From sub-editing and proof reading articles, to even choosing appropriate images for them, those little tasks meant quite a lot to little old me! The best thing was that Rachel and everyone else there, were happy to give me more advanced work so I could make the most of my limited time there. Sounds clichéd, but tis true. Considering the mass amounts of horrific internships in the journalism world, even I'll admit that it does sound too good. But apart from being locked in the closet - obvious sarcasm is obvious - it actually all happened.
So I'll leave this all by saying that any budding wannabe journalist - even if their just a homespun 16 year old - shouldn't be afraid to get out there. I highly recommend volunteering at CALM. With over 4,871 suicides in England and Wales, and 3,701 of them (76%) being male in 2011, anything to help this amazing charity to expand its influence and - simply put - save lives would be admirable. Because I've said it before and I'll say it again, doing all of the above really does beat sweeping hair.
copyright © josh milton 2017