Today I headed up to London for the RSPB "Aren't volunteers Brilliant Campaign Event 2012". I couldn't get my bearings when i came out of Euston, but thanks to my ingenious smart phone, Google maps led the way to the University of London Union where the event was being held. Got up to the room where everything was going on and had a few cups of tea then talked to a couple of the other people there. All sat down and awaited the welcome talk. All the staff were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. We had talks from Richard Budden who welcomed us and showed us some very emotive and shocking video clips from various organisations (Greenpeace, UNICEF etc.); Martyn Foster and Benedict Southworth who all provided us with very interesting information and I felt I had learnt a lot. It also felt like I had been transported back a few months to the days of sitting in lectures, however this was new and exciting material that I was really interested in. We were then put into groups and had discussions about the best campaigns that we had seen, which turned into a good debate with lots of ideas being bounced around.
After this was lunch, and not your bog standard crappy triangle sarnies, they had really made an effort to put on a good day, and catered for carnies, veggies and vegans! I should hope so too!
Anyway after this we had a feedback session where all the groups showed the flip charts of what we had come up with. Interesting how all groups picked up on the fact that the petitions which gain the most signatures or names are set up by celebrities (Brian May etc)! Many other common themes came up, such as knowledge and education and capturing the right audience.
Following this, Paul Outhwaite talked to us about the Thames Estuary Airport (TEA) campaign and showed us some shocking figures of the huge numbers of birds and large areas of wildlife habitat that would be destroyed if said plans were to go ahead.
In our same groups we were then asked to come up with 3 actions which we would implement for the TEA campaign. This was a very difficult task as we kept going down different paths. It was really great to have such an involved discussion about the ways in which we would put a stop on the idea of there ever being an airport built in the Thames Estuary. It is simply not viable and hopefully it will not get to the stage where we have to fight this! Surely Boris and the other idiots involved will see it is a ridiculous proposal.
The day was rounded off with Martin Abrams telling us a rather inspirational story about how he first got into campaigning. Everybody then used the paper with a speech bubble on that we were given at the start, to write a pledge of something we aimed to do to help, whatever we liked. I pledged to tell friends, family and the community about the TEA proposal and the campaign which is just beginning.
Then had a chat to some of the staff and signed myself up to be a pin badge holder, then made my way home, very weary due to lack of sleep (puppy Brackens fault) - but I will tell you more about that little terror another time!
p.s. sorry for lack of pictures!