Friday, January 04, 2008

Michelle Clarke - Volunteer Development Worker, Action 21

How old are you?
Almost 25

What’s your occupation and who do you work for?
Volunteer Development Worker. I work full time for Action 21 who work on practical sustainability projects in Warwickshire.

How long have been doing this?
Since February 2007

What is it about your job that makes it ethical?
Action 21 is a social enterprise that promotes sustainable living in Warwickshire through: practical environmental action; information and education; volunteering opportunities and volunteer support. We work in four different areas of sustainability: recycling, energy, food and transport. My job involves recruiting and supporting individuals to volunteer with Action 21. It’s great to get local people involved in environmental projects and to provide them with opportunities to up skill themselves and contribute in their community.

What’s the best bit about your job?
My job puts me in touch with a wide variety of the community and working with a wide team of volunteers is really inspiring and rewarding. I’m always having interesting conversations and meeting new people. It’s also great to see what voluntary work can do for people – especially those who do not think it’s for them and to see the change in people is really great.

What’s the worst thing?
There’s just not enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do. The sustainability agenda is huge and there are always more things that we could do. We’re a small organisation and the task seems immense!

What have the last 12 months been like for you?
The last 12 months have been really exciting but incredibly busy. Sometimes there seems little time for reflection and to think about what we’ve done. They have been great though as I’ve learnt so much, met so many people and really had some fun times.

What were you doing before this?
I was doing a placement with Groundwork Oldham and Rochdale which involved doing environmental education with Groundwork and working for Rochdale Borough Council in their sustainability department. Prior to this I was doing various voluntary jobs with environmental organisations and running my own social enterprise in Nottingham.

What was your very first full-time job?
My placement in Groundwork was my first full time job. Prior to that I was working full time hours but not just in one job. It was hectic! I wasn’t paid to work for Groundwork but it was still a full time job. Never underestimate the value of voluntary work!

What advice would you give to someone wishing to embark on the same sort of work as you?
I would suggest volunteering in the areas of work that interest you and getting as much experience as you can. It’s also a good chance to work out what you really want to do and what floats your boat. It’s very rewarding to work part time in paid work to pay the bills and then volunteer as much as you can in things you really care about. You get to meet so many people who always give you advice and sometimes you can be lucky enough to get paid work in the organisation you volunteer for. There is loads out there to do and you get so many skills. You can always start your own ethical job up – starting a social enterprise is hard work but so rewarding!

Have you got any plans for the next 12 months you’d like to share with us?
I’m not sure what the next 12 months hold as I’m not sure how much job will pan out with funding and the projects that I’m working on. I think I’ll take each day as it comes as if you endlessly plan, you never can really live in the moment!

What do you do to relax?
Yoga, tai chi, going out dancing, visiting friends, walking, reading, talking to my housemates, watching films.

Who do you live with?
A girl who works for Guide Dogs for the blind, Kat, and a lad who works in the Computer Games industry, Edd. They are the same age as me and just happen to be in Leamington for their jobs too.

Whereabouts do you live?
Leamington Spa, just south of Birmingham.

If you were Prime Minister, what’s the very first thing you would do?
I would take some drastic measures to get people out of their cars and would also want to try and people consuming soo much!

As cheap and easily available oil is expect to run out in the next couple of decades, what do you think will be the predominant form of transport in 2027?
Bicycles – it’s the only way! People will see the light! What with more obesity and mental health problems, congestion, social exclusion and stress, people should get on their saddles. I would make sure that people paid the true cost of driving their cars and that people really thought before getting in their cars.

Have you got any guilty carbon secrets?
Actually – I haven’t really but I am a bit rubbish at persuading others to be green – I feel like I’m annoying them! I’ve given up flying, am vegetarian, cycle everywhere and only buy second hand clothes but there is always more you could do.

What have you done that you were most proud of?
Set up the Crocus Café with a group of friends in Nottingham. This is a social enterprise which has a variety of aims and is a really great thing to have been involved in. It certainly helped me get my current job.

What single issue are you most concerned about in the world at large?
Climate change.

Which person in the public eye do you most admire and why?
Tony Juniper – Director of Friends of the Earth. He’s such a good public figure for the green movement and I find him really personable and interesting. He’s really good at talking about environmental issues. It’s a shame he’s not in the public eye as much as he could be.

What’s your website address?

What are your three favourite other websites of the moment?
I have to admit it but Facebook is one of my favourite – it really is such a good way to communicate with people and it can put you in touch with inspiring groups of people. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with people.
I’m also loving Wikipedia as my knowledge always needs extending.
And I guess I would have to say our website as a team of volunteers are updating it and editing it and it’s really going to come alive!

No comments: