So about 6 months ago, fresh-faced and unassuming, I replied to my careers advisor expressing interest in a political and social change group. They looked like their ethos was promising, there was a hint of free food, and it seemed as though it might give me the chance to develop my skills as a young member of society, teach me business skills, and allow me to make a change or two in Cardiff.
I loved all three of those things - and the hint of free food - so I signed up to a group called UpRising.
UpRising started in the aftermath of the 2011 riots in London. There was, and is, real political apathy in the young people of Britain. Ethnic minorities and the lower classes aren't getting near positions of power, and as a result, (vastly simplified) we have a disillusioned youth. They simply don't believe they can make a difference. And the point of UpRising was to change and challenge that. To provide young people with the tools and contacts to make a difference.
I think I summed it up alright.
Fast-forward through the interview process, and I was in. I travelled to the first meeting in a part of Cardiff I'd never been to before, in a building I'd never heard of, and thus I begun my exploration of the city of Cardiff.
We were placed on a 'leadership retreat' in the sunny realms of Stoke. There I met some awesome people, people I'm still in contact with today, and we began to establish contacts and didn't drink a lot at the bar. We didn't. I promise. There was a marked difference in the not-hungover bus journey on the way home. Stony silence was replaced by laughter and noise. The team in Cardiff had begun.
We all met every Tuesday across the next 6 months, for a few hours in the evening, and talked. We talked social media, politics, refugees, politics, and politics. We met councillors, we met the Lord Mayor, we met the head of Cardiff bus, and we loved it (I loved it, other views are available, I'm sure). Oh, and we spent a lot of nights in a lot of pubs, chatting and exchanging ideas.
It's been 6 months since we started that course. In those 6 months I have learned so much about myself as a person, and myself in a professional capacity. I've learned more about empathy, and I've learned how cities run at a political level. I've learnt to be confident in my own abilities.
Now we move on, now we apply the skills we've learned, and start our social action campaigns. I'm going to be going into secondary schools and teaching the youngest kids politics. One of my friends is making a film, using refugees to act and shoot the entire thing. Another friend is helping charity shops make more money out of their stock. We're making differences in our community.
UpRising has been one of the best things I have done with my life. Because of it I am working as a youth ambassador for Wales and learning about the career path I want to take.
The two most important things I've taken from it are an awesome, diverse group of friends,and the knowledge of how easy it is to make a difference in the community you're living in, if you're willing to work for it.
That's all for now, I guess. Next time on this series I'll talk about my Social Action campaign in more detail!