Infographics

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I have come to the end of my time with Full Fact and it has been one of my favourite work placements so far. This is mainly because I felt engaged with the work that I had to do and in addition I felt that I was learning new skills. In general the skill that I really learnt through this experience was how to create news stories found in data. It is incredible how many news stories you can find by analysing claims and data, and even though reporting news stories is not Full Fact’s agenda, it will certainly help me in a journalism career. Naturally, due to the nature of the work, I have learnt how important it is to be accurate in reporting stories and more specifically I learnt how to create interesting infographics to enhance reader understanding of data. I will include a couple of the graphs I made during my time at Full Fact below. Unfortunately, they did not make it as a post during the live debate between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage as the claim was not made directly.

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Full Fact – Update

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Since working with Full Fact I have found that my skills in creating infographics has been strengthened. This is something that I was really looking to develop as it can be really useful in demonstrating a point when using a range of statistics in an article. My skills in excel have improved in particular. I will display the graphs I have created here once they are published.

In addition I have received some exciting news about the range of activities I will be participating in during my time with the organization. As well as researching for the LBC debate between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, I have found out that I will be present on the day at the LBC studios and live reporting and supporting the team during the debate on European elections. I anticipate seeing the whole process at LBC Radio and also being present for debate. Who will be listening on the day? I would love to hear everyone’s opinions.

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Volunteering for employment? Think again.

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Volunteering for employment? Think again.

The message seems to be loud and clear in Britain today, if you aren’t so lucky to have a job you should do yourself and society a service and volunteer. With a record number of unemployment rates during the economic crisis, the best way to gain skills which will put you back in the job market is by volunteering. This is suggested from graduate advice sites to government initiatives. So, it benefits society and helps individuals to gain confidence and get back into the working world, right?

Unfortunately, the assumption that volunteering directly leads to employment is just that -an assumption. Since the summer Olympics in 2012 the government has been running volunteering schemes, under the Big Society agenda, in the hope to engage individuals in society and ultimately give them the skills to find employment. This idea has gained so much momentum that in September 2013 George Osborne announced the ‘Help to Work’ scheme which proposes that it should be compulsory for the long-term unemployed to participate in voluntary work as a scheme “designed to tackle long term unemployment”.

Research into the topic, however, has shown that there is no direct correlation between volunteering and employment. Findings published in the Voluntary Sector Review in 2013 suggest that volunteering has positive effect on employment for some individuals, but it can also have negative effect or no effect at all. For example, Andy Hurst found that while 88% of those looking for work believed that their volunteering would help them with gaining employment, only about 40% that did get a job stated that volunteering aided their employment. Daiga Kamerade also found that when analysing the relationship between formal volunteering and gaining employment, volunteering does not show significant positive influence in gaining full term employment. She attributes this to two main reasons. Firstly, the skills acquired in voluntary positions were not necessarily transferable or in demand. In addition, a poor job market leads to high competition where these skills are not necessarily valued.

What the research has shown is high variability in the link between volunteering, employability skills and employability. Just because you gain employability skills it does not mean that you will gain employability as it depends on what you have learned and how you can apply it to the working world. The government initiatives and the research is not considering volunteering for private businesses here (such as work experience placements, and internships) this is in regard to pure community based volunteering, which means that the skills that you learn do not always have a direct link to the work you may aim for. An exception to this is for individuals who wish to work in the third sector whereby volunteering is highly considered in the field, in particular when individuals have an interest in a certain cause. What this shows is that to gain employment through volunteering the best thing to do is carefully plan what you are doing with a specific focus in mind. This is a recommendation made by Kamerade herself. She suggests that making voluntary programs that focus on the skills needed for work placements.

The problem with this is that it suggests that volunteering should be considered purely in monetary terms. In reality, volunteering has been shown to have many positive impacts that are unrelated to employment. Volunteering has proven to aid mental health in individuals, and as research from the University of Exeter recently showed, also may prolong life. In addition it helps with social inclusion. As a society benefit it helps to build communities and those who are disadvantaged.

Ultimately, when it comes to volunteering and government policy the emphasis is in the wrong place. Not only has the notion that volunteering directly leads to employment proven to be inaccurate, but it also places the blame on individuals and suggests that the lack of employment in society at the moment is due to a lack of skills base and knowledge. In reality, a huge reason for the current state of unemployment in Britain is due to the economy, which is the government’s role to maintain. Volunteering is a worthwhile hobby, but when it comes to making it compulsory it can be controversial and demeaning. Furthermore, it begs the question, is this just another institution the government expects young people to go through in the hope of gaining a fulfilling career? Much like the promise of university, volunteering proves itself to be just as underwhelming in results towards direct employment.

Sources:

http://blogs.ncvo.org.uk/2013/09/23/volunteering-during-unemployment-does-it-lead-to-paid-work/
https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B5vWl0CNJlmmcEhVSW5uSFl6TDQ&usp=sharing&tid=0B5vWl0CNJlmmRXVVaDBzNFl0R1E
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/help-to-work-scheme-announced-by-the-government
http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/generic/tsrc/research/workforce-and-workplace/digest3-volunteering-as-a-solution.aspx

Here is an additional article published at Shout Out UK, you can find the link here.

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How the Lobbying Act may affect charities

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How the Lobbying Act may affect charities

The debate over The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act (or the Lobbying Act) is heating up as we draw closer to the upcoming elections in 2015. Opinion is divided between the Act being enforced “to improve openness and transparency” as stated by David Cameron, or a complex piece of legislation that will make it difficult for charities to campaign for issue-based causes.

According to the government the Act has been introduced as a measure to improve transparency during elections. In response to recent criticism David Cameron has assured that the Act will only apply to organisations and charities who use their resources solely for the purpose of ensuring electoral success of a particular political party or candidate. In short it is made for the purpose that it “regulates more closely election campaign spending by those not standing for election or registered as political parties”. However the regulatory body of the Act, the Electoral Commission, have suggested that campaigning activity could be regulated even if an organisations intention is to achieve something else such as campaigning on a certain issue that coincides with a party or candidate.

The majority of criticism of the Act has been dismissed as dramatic and usually presented by ‘left-leaning’ individuals. However, both of these arguments show the very problem that may be caused for charities. Firstly, that there is no clear definition of what the Lobbying Act will mean for a range of organisations causing confusion. Secondly, the Act can cause serious disruption to issue-based campaigns led by charities due to the fear of what may happen if these issues are closely tied to a current political candidate or party. These are but some of the concerns that the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has raised in a recent briefing aimed at government. The NCVO is the largest membership organisation for the voluntary sector in England with over 10,000 members.

According to the NCVO a range of organisations have raised concerns over the Act. Some of the main concerns include the fact that the Act is complex and unclear; it adds bureaucracy issues with the Electoral Commission as a regulatory body, spending limits are being placed on organisations, and there is uncertainty as to when and how the rules will be applied. Groups such as the Joseph Roundtree Foundation, Oxfam, and British Legion have all spoken out against the act in its current form.

Not only is there problems with clarity of the Act and how it will be administered but there are sincere concerns that it will stifle the charity sector’s voice. A proponent of this view has been Sir Steven Bubb, the CEO of ACEVO. He has claimed that a range of charities abilities to speak out in behalf of their beneficiaries has been restricted. He recognises the need for an open and transparent system, but not if it gives them the right to “muzzle charities…and chill democracy”.

This is not just hyperbole by Sir Bubb. Take the example of a small community group or voluntary organisation. If they were to campaign for a local cause that affected their beneficiaries’ lives and this coincided with a local politician or wider election campaigns, they could be subjected to regulation even if the group is apolitical and not affiliated with any one party or campaign. When one considers the work of a range of charities, this would not be restricted to few groups as many are invested in a range of campaigns for the improvement of policy.

Surely, especially around the time of elections, the general public should become aware of such issues to make an educated vote. It is particularly concerning that the Bill gained Royal Assent on the 30th of January, making it an Act of Parliament (and UK law). Considering the impact it could have on the general public’s knowledge of important issues during election time, it is astounding how little mainstream media coverage the Act has had.

The Lobbying Act is now causing concerns about a fair democracy. One can only speculate whether this is the true intention of the current government, but my guess would be that it has more to do with stifling lobbying by trade unions for the Labour party during the upcoming elections. None the less, in its current form it causes fair concern over what it means for a range of charities and voluntary groups who only aim to support disadvantaged groups. A funny turn of events when one considers the current government’s emphasis on civil society engagement proposed throughout their Big Society Agenda. It certainly sends a negative message at the moment, the government wants the general public to become involved and of service to the country through volunteering and participating in civil society, but when it comes to giving a political opinion through campaigning with these groups they don’t want to hear it.

Sources:
http://blogs.ncvo.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/chloe-stables/Parliamentary-Briefing-2nd-reading1.pdf
http://www.acevo.org.uk/acevo-budget-letter-2014
http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/governance/news/content/17009/david_cameron_says_lobbying_act_will_affect_few_charities
http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/transparencyoflobbyingnonpartycampaigningandtradeunionadministration.html

I am currently a contributor in the online news site, Shout Out UK. You can find this article published here and an update to my clippings on the ‘clippings’ tab.

I will be the EU correspondent for the site so stay in tune for updates on EU membership.

Full Fact – Internship

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Today I began an internship with Full Fact. It is an organisation that I have been hoping to work with for a while now as I really value the service that they provide as writer’s and researchers. The aim of the organisation is to fact-check claims or statistics that are delivered by MPs during question-time or in other scenarios.

I feel that I have been fortunate in gaining work placements and experiences in journalism and research where I am given plenty of room to participate (no running around to get tea and lunches- I feel so fortunate!). My time with Full Fact is no different and I have immediately been given the task of following the debates and arguments that a range of parties are proposing in the lead up to the European elections on May the 22nd. Currently I am focusing on the debates between the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and UKIP’s Nigel Farage. I have to research and prepare the range of arguments that the two leaders are likely to propose during their upcoming debate on LBC Radio.

I anticipate the other activities that I will be involved in over the next couple of weeks, and I am so glad to be working with a small, but lovely team. If you are curious about the website please visit it here: https://fullfact.org/

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Hollywood on the Tiber

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Hollywood on the Tiber

Mukti Jain Campion celebrates the mostly glamorous 75-year history of Cinecitta, Rome’s famous film studios, where many classic productions of the Fifties and Sixties, such as Roman Holiday, Ben-Hur and La Dolce Vita, were shot. She looks back at the studios’ heyday, when Liz Taylor and Richard Burton’s affair blossomed on the set of Cleopatra, and recalls its temporary role as a refugee camp for orphaned children in 1944.

Published in ‘Live’ Magazine (Mail On Sunday)

For original print visit: http://www.clippings.me/kbylyk

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Hallucination: Through the Doors of Perception

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Hallucination: Through the Doors of Perception

The state of hallucination has been interpreted in many ways throughout history. In the modern world it is often linked to the use of drugs and mental disorders. Geoff Watts discovers studies which provide alternative interpretations for the phenomenon as he demystifies the causes of the hallucinogenic experience. The report reveals some scientific surprises when the condition is linked to common illnesses, disabilities and mentally ‘healthy’ individuals, and reopens the debate on how hallucination should be examined.

Published in ‘Live’ Magazine (Mail On Sunday)

For original print visit: http://www.clippings.me/kbylyk

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Fight Club: A History of Violence

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Fight Club: A History of Violence

This four-part series describes how Britain has played host to organised fight clubs down the centuries. From descriptions of the dominant cultures, where drinking and gambling predominated, to the impact on mind and body of the competitors, we gain a picture of why this vicious sport has been exploited as popular entertainment throughout history. Whether living in poverty or luxury, the masses have always crowded in to watch brutal spectacles. The series begins in the rookeries of the Georgian era; a grimy London where social unrest and class divisions thrived and fighting gained status among both men and women.

Published in ‘Live’ Magazine (Mail On Sunday)

For original print visit: http://www.clippings.me/kbylyk

In addition to interning for the Haymarket Group I also participated in an internship with ‘Live’ Magazine, Mail On Sunday (this magazine has since been changed to ‘Event’ magazine). Within this experience I participated by writing a range of television and radio reviews.

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Connecting Coast and Community

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Connecting Coast and Community

Natural landscapes can easily be taken for granted, even when they are as beautiful as Druridge Bay in Northumberland. Projects like Coal and Coast are essential in connecting people to the landscapes that surround them, building relationships between community, heritage, culture and nature that will last generations.

Druridge Bay is known for its pleasant beaches, but there is so much more to this area than just sand – Coal and Coast wants to make the local community aware of this. It aims to engage people in the area’s fascinating history, from Bronze Age man to the Second World War and the history of the once-essential coal industry.

“A lot of people know about the beaches, but they don’t realise how much more there is to the area,” says the project’s Development Manager, Steve Scoffin. “People don’t see the landscape beyond the beach – but the potential there is so important.”

By providing opportunities for training and volunteering, the project aims to raise awareness of local built areas and help protect the coastlines, which are at risk from rising sea levels. Volunteers will be given the option of training in rural skills, archaeology or health and safety in the area, improving future job prospects and raising engagement. To widen the project’s reach, many recreational events have also been planned, including festivals, wildlife walks, guided cycle rides and theatre workshops.

The project has big aims. By 2025, it hopes that the area will be nationally recognised for the outstanding quality of its landscape and environment. “People are very keen to get started,” says Steve. “We’re aiming to have 1,000 volunteers each year, but we’ll easily exceed that.”

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