Jessica, aged 18 from City and Islington College, joined The Jo Cox Foundation at the beginning of July in 2020 for a work experience placement with Speakers for Schools and through their S4SNextGen programme. Jessica has written a short account of her experience:
I completed a week of virtual work experience at the Jo Cox Foundation at the beginning of July last year. We were just coming out of lockdown – a time where the Foundation’s central message of ‘coming together’ felt even more difficult, and yet even more necessary, than ever. I applied for the opportunity mainly because I had some very clear memories of Jo Cox and the work she did, but especially of the day of her murder.
I remember my mother crying whilst watching the news. I remember seeing messages of mourning and celebration from all kinds of people flood the internet. I remember feeling incredibly inspired by all the work that had been done by Jo, and by her family in her memory. When I heard about the work of the foundation that had been set up in her name, I remember thinking about how amazing it was that such an awful tragedy had been turned into a wonderful legacy. When I realised I had a chance to become a part, if only a very small part, of that legacy, I wanted to try and make it happen, and I was really excited to get a place on the programme.
It was strange to be waking up early in the summer holidays to sit at a computer and speak to people I’d never met about what it was like to work in a charity. But when I think of the sessions that were planned out for us, and the work I completed over Zoom meetings and WhatsApp groups, the word that comes to mind is ‘welcoming’. I felt very at home during my time there, partly because I was at home, but partly because everyone we met was so nice and completely open to giving us a bit of insight into their work and the journey they’d undertaken to get there.
We heard so many different stories, but everyone on the calls had one thing in common – a desire to do good for others, and to make the world a better place. It was interesting to get an insight into how a charity actually functions, and getting to take part in some of the work ourselves: from filling in spreadsheets to creating social media resources that actually got posted on the official accounts.
The week of our work experience took place during the Remembering Srebrenica Memorial Week, and we spent a lot of time learning about this tragic and important event. We took a lot of the stories that had a particular impact on us and turned them into posts to be shared on social media, to try and bring more awareness to the scale of the loss. I felt really honoured to be involved in commemorating the lives that were lost in this genocide, and hearing the different stories really reminded me why we were all here, to do what we could to stop hate and bring people together.
I really valued my time working with the Jo Cox Foundation, and I am confident that the lessons and skills I learnt will follow me for the rest of my life. In a strange way, I feel quite a personal connection to Jo herself now, and I feel as though I have a duty to carry her message with me, which I definitely aim to do.