When we started on the project we had no idea how challenging but life-affirming this series would become for us… here’s the last episode in the series:
Virgin’s core mission was to challenge real barriers facing a wide spectrum of society attempting to get a foot into the workplace. It’s a tough subject and the scope of inquiry, almost limitless: physical disabilities; neurological differences; past criminal convictions; seeking asylum and fighting for the legal right to work; racism; sexism… actually, all of the ‘isms’. These barriers are complex, multilayered and different for everyone who experiences them. They can seem insurmountable, even stopping them from seeking employment and ultimately achieving their ambitions in life.
Our idea was simple – to get the conversation out in the open (literally in some cases) by introducing top decision makers to people affected by a perceived barrier to employment. There were certain risks. Everyone who took part in the series of 6 episodes had never met their counter-part before. It involved a definite leap-of-faith. But, without exception, the gamble paid off. Barriers were deconstructed, connections were made, and, in some cases, friendships were formed for life. It was a joy to be a part of.
Take, for example, the first episode in which educator and CEO of the Woodland Academy Trust, Dan Morrow – who manages over 250 people across four schools in England – met Alison Golding, a volunteer at one of the Dan’s schools. Alison had the opportunity to explain to Dan her issues as well as her ambitions for the future. It wasn’t an easy thing to do for Alison. The thought of speaking into a microphone to someone who controls so much of one’s life would be terrifying for anyone.
But, as the conversation progressed and Alison eased into the conversation showing Dan where she volunteered in the school and talked about her routine, the conversation started opening up. Alison talked about her daily battles in life (both practically and mentally); how the volunteering was essentially a lifeline which gave her the confidence and an identity outside of her family life; and why working in such an environment was essential, not only for her, but for the strength of the community.
Podcasts are the perfect medium for these types of conversations. Intimacy is key. In fact, I would go as far as saying that intimacy is everything. That is why engagement in the medium is so high, higher than on any other platform in fact. As a listener you feel part of the conversation you’re listening to. Like you’re there, in the room. And that is a real tool for action and change. There’s nothing more powerful.
We’re very proud of this series. We hope you like it too.