The 30 year old Runner

It may seem like I have had something of a blogging hiatus of late but in fact I have been blogging often, just in other places like here, here and here.

Last time I posted I was nervously awaiting my 30th birthday which I had been dreading for a while. I’d been having a bit of a tough time, unable to get even an interview, let alone a job and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. My birthday itself, despite the best efforts of dear friends, was a fairly sorry affair culminating in my phone being stolen in Shoreditch at the end of my big night out. To paraphrase a well worn saying, woe was most definitely me. I had just about had enough. After wallowing over the remainder of the weekend and worrying my poor mother half to death in floods of tears I decided to give myself two more weeks in London and if I hadn’t found work by the end of that time I was going home.

It turns out that was the kick up the backside I needed. I knew I had a week’s work experience coming up which I had been looking forward to for ages but beyond that, nothing was set in stone and I was pretty on edge I wouldn’t find something. I had the best week work experience I could have hoped for where I got the opportunity to help out at a production company that makes some of my favourite TV shows. I got to try my hand at researching potential contributors for a show in development, organising contributor release forms, (the forms that give production companies contributors’ express consent to participate in the show) and organising props for a weekend shoot. At the end of the week I amazingly got invited to work on location at the very same shoot I had prepared the props for and it was brilliant! It was a super long day but I got such a buzz out of getting up early and helping out wherever I was needed. I really felt like part of the team and I can’t wait to see the end result when it is released.

On the day before my disasterous birthday I had had an interview for an internship with a documentary filmmaker I really wanted to work with (whose website you can visit via the first link at the top of this post). Interestingly when I applied for the job back in January I didn’t hear back for rather a long time. I knew Helen, the company Director, was filming in Ghana at the time so a few weeks after she returned to London I gave her a call to follow up. No answer. I left a voicemail. The next day I tried again and didn’t get through for a second time so I sent her an email. Fast forward a month later and after two interviews I was sitting in a coffee shop in Dalston with Helen on my first day of work. She told me then that she had received 100 applications for the post and missed mine by accident when I submitted it initially. It was only when I followed up that she decided to give me an interview because she admired the fact I followed up. Thank God I did! I started working for See Change Films on the last day of my two week deadline. Talk about cutting it fine!

After a wonderful 3 months writing and implementing a communications strategy and helping train inspiring young people with stories to tell through film it was time to move on and I finished there just over a week ago. I managed to get an interview with a post production house in Soho as a Runner / Receptionist but alas it wasn’t meant to be and I received the ‘thanks-but-no-thanks’ phone call a few days later. HOWEVER… even though I wasn’t right for that particular job the panel saw something in me and invited me for a trial shift as a Runner. That was last Thursday and at the end of the day they offered me the job. So that’s us up to date! I’m now a 30 year old Runner and I’m having the time of my life! 🙂

When kindness in the virtual world becomes a reality

I recently applied for an internship with a forward-thinking social enterprise and one of the application requirements was to submit a piece of writing. There was no indication of what the subject matter should be and it took me a good couple of days to think of something to write that I thought might catch their eye.

After tearing my hair out for a while I decided to take things back to basics and write about something that’s been on my mind for a while – technology and our dependency on the virtual world. I was really conscious about waffling on too long (which I probably ended up doing anyway) but I thought I’d share what I wrote with you here. I’d be really interested to know what you think – any feedback gratefully received although please not too harsh! I’m also keen to hear if you agree with me or maybe you have a different opinion – please share it! I’d love to hear more examples of acts of kindness that have transitioned from the virtual to the real world! Here goes…

I don’t know about you but I am finding it increasingly hard to focus. What was the first thing you reached for this morning when you woke up? Each day, I’ve barely wiped the sleep from my eyes before I’m checking my emails, Facebook and Twitter feeds along with my blog subscriptions and whatever else catches my eye. Never before have we been so connected and so in control of how the world sees us thanks to unlimited Instagram filters, Photoshop and image crafting status updates. If it wasn’t for Facebook I’m not sure I’d remember anyone’s birthdays or get invited to nearly as many events!

I recently relocated from Northern Ireland to a city brimming with possibilities and excitement but it somehow feels tinged with loneliness. Everyone on the Tube looks glum as they do their best to ignore their fellow commuters in favour of their Kindle, iPod or copy of Metro. Despite being surrounded by people everyone strikes me as being completely – and wilfully – alone. And that’s fine if you are young, busy and able bodied with 500 Facebook friends to keep you entertained as you get from A to B. But what about people who don’t have access to all of this? What about the elderly?

 James Gray Photo credit:

James Gray
Photo credit:

In the run up to Christmas I came across an article online about an 85 year old Irish immigrant named James Gray who travelled to the city for work as a young man and ended up settling in South London, where he continues to reside today. Spending his working life as a butler James reminisced of a busy social calendar where he enjoyed hosting parties at his flat until, one by one, his friends and colleagues paired off and acceptances to his invitations slowly but surely dwindled. James never married nor did he have children. The reason his story came to light is that James took out an advertisement in the Irish Post to see if he could find someone to spend Christmas with.

The Irish Post is the top selling newspaper to Irish people living in Britain yet only one person – a woman in a similar situation – replied to the ad only to later renege on her offer of spending Christmas with him. In all of London can you believe only one person reached out to this man? No? Well neither could Irish Post journalist Niall O’Sullivan who picked up James’s story and ran with it as a main feature in the paper. The article went viral – global – in a matter of hours and resulted in countless Christmas dinner invitations from Co. Cork to Chile and thousands of Christmas cards from everywhere in between.

What made people reach out to James Gray was the way O’Sullivan told his story and directly appealed to his readers’ empathic natures. He suggested if anyone wanted to write James a Christmas card so he would have something to open on Christmas Day they could send them to the paper and staff would pass them on. It can often be easy to ignore calls for help that we believe we are too detached from to really make a difference. However, as James’s story proves, many small acts of kindness can make a big difference to people in need and can reignite the faith in humanity we’ve allowed ourselves to tune out in recent years. James ended up breaking his 9 year tradition of spending Christmas alone and dined with a fellow Irish couple who had moved to England as he once did.

James enjoying dinner with new friends, Marian and John Photo credit:

James enjoying dinner with new friends, Marian and John
Photo credit:

It’s so easy to share an article or an image on social media and forget about it once you’ve done so. I’m definitely guilty of this. But perhaps the global reaction to James’s story proved that it is possible to connect people online and inspire them to carry out an indiscriminate act of kindness they may never directly see the benefit from. I wonder how many lives we could touch by taking some of our online actions offline to help someone in need?

If you’re interested in hearing more about James and how his story touched the hearts of thousands of people around the world take a look at the original article here.