Feeling empowered by National Conference

Maya Jagger · 25 July 2022

Reflecting on conference, I feel regenerated and inspired to have met likeminded people who I have made some fantastic ongoing connections with, who are working together to make our world a better place. Practicing karate on the beach also contributed to the inspiration and regeneration. As did the sunshine, the donuts, and the chips. Anyway…

I would recommend attending the National Conference…If you want to make connections outside of your bubble… If you want to be empowered… If you want to have your voice heard. I did push myself to speak at the podium against one motion. You don’t have to do this, but once you get up there it’s an extremely supportive crowd, no matter how confident or afraid you are of public speaking. Just remember to mention you’ve never done this before, and you’ll get a big cheer. I received some awesome feedback about my speech too!

National Conference

National Conference

On my lunch breaks I went to Fringe sessions. The Young Workers Fringe event, ‘Winning for young workers: Organising the union of the future’, hosted by Naomi Taylor with Alfie Warren-Knight, James Burton-Sweeten and Arun Devasia speaking. Alfie has created an exciting movement, FilmStrike4Climate, that engages people both inside and outside the union. FilmStrike4Climate brings film industry talent and climate justice activists together to tell stories that change the world. James has been organising in his branch at UKAEA and has been very successful in doing so and Arun talked about his time organising for Hope Not Hate. I enjoyed hearing from each speaker about their experience of organising young workers, the successes, and failures, and what they plan in doing next.

On Monday 13th June at National Conference, we heard from Marcus Ryder, award winning journalist, new Chair of The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art Council and Head of External Consultancies at the Lenny Henry Centre. He spoke about representation and tackling racism. There is no shortage of Black scriptwriters out there, yet they are a minority, as are Black commissioners, in the Film and TV industry. This bias inevitably shapes storytelling and how we consume media.

Marcus Ryder

Marcus Ryder

Whether or not you think that institutional racism is overlooked, we can’t deny that more work can be done in this area. It’s easy for someone like me, a young, replaceable freelancer, early career, to be intimidated into not standing up for what’s right in the workplace but being part of Prospect helps minimise this intimidation

Marcus not only received a standing ovation, but also saw an impromptu fringe event spring up around him spontaneously as soon as he entered the lobby of the Bournemouth International Centre. Marcus was extremely generous with his time, seating himself at a round table to converse with anyone who joined him outside the main conference hall.

Throughout the National Conference, we witnessed individuals who had travelled the country rise to the podium. These individuals who took to the podium were from a diverse set of backgrounds, such as copywriters, National Grid, civil servants, archaeologists, artists and the opinions and expertise they gave carried weight to effect change. We even saw quite a few young workers at the podium. This gave me hope.

Whilst the fight for rights and to make change shouldn’t fall to the young workers alone, it is important that young workers are represented within the union movement and have input into change to ensure the change is the one we want to see. My time at the conference proved I am not alone in this thinking, or even a minority. I put myself forward to be a Delegate because the only way to make change, is for us to be the change!

Overall, I enjoyed myself immensely. It was my first time in Bournemouth at the National Conference, the sea air and views were in stark contrast to London. I made new friends and connections and I found shared vision with them. I didn’t know what to expect from the National Conference and, although I didn’t make the introductory session, I realised I didn’t need to worry about a thing and had a fantastic experience seeing the democratic union process in action.

Maya Jagger | Locations Branch in Film and TV, London