Volunteering to talk about Amnesty
After finishing university I was at a loss at what to do next, eventually I decided that some volunteer work was the way to go and I settled on a project Scotland placement with Amnesty International. My mission if I chose to accept it (which I did) was to be an outreach volunteer and make up two workshops one on Trafficking and another on The White Ribbon Campaign and then deliver these two workshops to youth groups and other organisations. After starting in January and reading a great many documents about Trafficking and the White Ribbon campaign I compiled a list of organisations and sent letters off to a wide section of civil society. My final list of places I would visit included; a political parties student conference, amnesty youth groups, youth groups, public meetings, excluded pupils centres, and a centre for the recently ex-homeless. This made me pretty nervous about how I might engage all these different groups some of whom may prefer to be doing something else entirely!
My first workshop was a bit of an easy start an Amnesty Youth group at a school. The children were interested and the teachers were enthusiastic, it was a dream of a group. Thankfully most of my groups were the same although you often had to start with a group of people who would rather be somewhere else. Once I was arriving at a youth group and had the pleasure of overhearing the group protest loudly about the fact that they were not playing pool that week. (a tough crowd!) That group in fact turned out to be one of the best groups that I have had, they came up with some of the most interesting points and they were obviously very intelligent.
My workshops involve a lot of discussion and through this I have heard some very disturbing points of view for example one girl said: ‘Oh I think it would be OK to be a prostitute’. Discussion is important especially when you are thinking about how to combat domestic violence. We need to change peoples views on the issue, its not enough to say that Domestic violence doesn’t involve me so its not my problem, its widespread and its everyone’s problem. Privacy is a major issue when it comes to domestic violence but it needs to be out in the open and discussed all the time. I hope I changed some views or at least got people thinking about the views they have.
I have loved every minute of the outreach work I have done its often a challenge but it’s the most challenging things that are the most rewarding. The more youth groups I have been to and the more people I have spoken to the more I have realised how important outreach work is. Outreach work brings new ideas and issues to people who may have never came into contact with them. I feel from all my youth groups everyone learned something that they will remember about the issue even if it was something small and hopefully I have changed some people’s views. Awareness is so important its people knowing and being outraged that can lead to real change and I think that right down at the grassroots is an important place for Amnesty to be involved.
Lindsay Coull – Outreach Volunteer
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.