For someone who wants to work within communications, the value of working at an organisation such as the BBC cannot be overstated. Three weeks ago I was lucky enough to start a placement within the Week In Week Out programme, based at BBC Wales in Llandalf. This programme focuses on hard-hitting and investigative journalism. Past episodes have covered a wide range of topics such as immigration, debt, the mental health of young people and children, slavery, drugs, social care, adult literacy and numeracy, dementia and religious extremism. Other major stories have focused on the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of three SAS reservists during a training exercise in the Brecon Beacons and the events leading to Wales’s biggest health board, Betsi Cadwaladr, being put into special measures. For this particular episode, families involved spoke to the programme for the first time about how their relatives were treated on a dementia ward.

During my first week, I particularly enjoyed helping the team on their last preparations for the latest episode focusing on the Welsh view of Jeremy Corbyn and the potential impact of his leadership election victory on Wales. Here, I put my keen interest in politics to use by monitoring any news developments relating to his early leadership of the Labour Party. Though researching web pages of reports may appear to many mundane, I quickly realised that genuine and very real human stories are at the heart of such research and consequently, how vital such work really is to the Week In Week Out programme. Ultimately, these are the human stories which connect and engage with audiences and it is this relationship with viewers across the country, that is at the heart of the BBC as a whole.

Another valuable opportunity and indeed, interesting and insightful experience, was witnessing the process of editing footage for a programme to it going out live from the BBC gallery; this is basically the main control room where many BBC Wales programmes are scheduled and go live on-air. Currently I am working with colleagues to research and develop upcoming stories and am equally enjoying this. It has also been a very pleasant and welcoming surprise to find a couple of colleagues who love horror films as much as I do. Luckily, I have just enough time to draw up a list  of my own favourite films for them to watch on Halloween.

Reflecting on my time at the BBC so far, I view my experience not just as an important stepping stone to my chosen career but yet another experience where I have made new friends, as well as colleagues, in my journey to build my confidence and ultimately overcome my social anxiety.

The BBC has both fulfilled it’s own values and exceeded my expectations as a welcoming and inclusive environment to work in and one which values diversity. Above all, however, as someone who has moments of self-doubt about my own ability, I will always remember my experience here and the support and encouragement I have been given, as a source of strength I can drawn on in the future.

I therefore look forward to the rest of my time at BBC Wales and what I can achieve together with my friends and colleagues.

An article I have written for the July edition of the Cardiff Times.

Where does the recent election result leave young people? Depending on their political outlook, many were possibly disappointed on the May 8th and arguably, rightly so, but as the political wheels already start turning, nothing can be achieved by looking back in regret. However, we should be very aware that though the Labour Party are still the largest part in Wales after the election, the Conservatives also achieved their highest vote share since 1992, giving them an increased influence.

In the midst of this disappointment, I have come across at least one thing both relatively surprising and positive; a piece on the Telegraph website that recognizes the impact of Conservative policies on social mobility. One of these policies is the proposal to phase out maintenance grants for students from households with less than a £42,000 annual income. These grants are a vital source of income for students whose parents can’t help fund their living costs through the course of their study. Simultaneously, the government spends billions of pounds on working tax credits as a subsidy for employers paying low wages for unskilled work. In this context it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that this will make it harder to combat the, recently reported, approach of top London City firms to apply a poshness test to graduate applicants. If the maintenance grant goes there will be even less bright working class able to graduate and even have the slim chance of passing the poshness test. Young people have already taken the brunt of many of the funding cuts by the government, whether this be the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance, the increase in university tuition fees, plans to deny housing benefits for under 25 year olds or the closure of vital youth centres.

Perhaps the most significant proposal, in the context of our entire democratic system, is the intention of the Conservative government to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British bill of rights. It is hard to believe that only 15 years ago this was considered a major landmark in the British legal system. Within it, there are many important elements to protect young people and children. Not only does it ensure that all children have access to education, but also, that, they can express their own views and have their own beliefs, that they don’t experience abuse at home, that they aren’t forced to work, that they can freely practice a religion of their choosing, and much more.

Human rights can also provide a vital framework to encourage young people to take part in our democratic society, and to discuss and debate decisions made by public bodies about their lives. We should therefore be concerned about any changes which have an impact on the ability for more young people to get involved in politics or further alienate them from the political process.

Yet, in the midst of these significant concerns one debate outshines them all; that which thousands of young people contributed to, by taking to social media and  letting their views heard. For, while there was an absence of a youth voice in the stuffy political debates of Radio 4 and the Financial times etc leading up to the election and concern over the percentage of young people ultimately voting, this debate is something that no election result can take away. It also a human right that we, as young people, should never give up on.


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