Olivia Fields currently works at the British Red Cross as Policy and Advocacy Manager and provided an interesting skills session on campaigning and advocacy at our February Conference. She studied Philosophy and French at the University of Bristol and is currently studying for a Masters in Global Migration at UCL. Her skills session focused on lobbying, media, public mobilisation, allies and research. She spoke about the effective use of media in her work, and how despite sometimes having detrimental consequences it often has proved to be very useful and has led to government action. For example, she referred to the picture of the dead child on the beach publicised in the media and how the public’s reaction to this picture promoted media support and led to Cameron allowing 10,000 refugees into the UK. Olivia spoke about how the process of touching people and the emotional impact can lead to action.
Olivia also spoke about her work for the Red Cross and how she has progressed from completing an internship there 5 years ago focusing on stateless asylum seekers to now being a manager. She spoke about the difficultly in ‘jumping straight into a job’ in the NGO sector and that you need experience. She loves her job however, she described how it can be exhausting getting people to support your campaigns and it is often hard to understand why people do not want to implement what you are calling for. As part of her job Olivia works with the government and House of Lords to implement policies. Her main ambition is to alleviate suffering but by speaking out as a charity they do not want to prevent themselves from doing this in the most effective way.