A Blessing in Disguise

I write this post almost two weeks after finding out that I didn’t get that HarperCollins trainee role. Yes, I’m gutted but I’ve moved on. Getting that rejection email has actually been a blessing in disguise.

A few days before the final assessment day at HarperCollins I met with a woman named Salma who works for Latin American Women’s Aid (LAWA). We chatted about my future and why I’d want to volunteer for a non-profit organisation like LAWA.

LAWA offers free support to Latin American, Black and minority ethnic women and children who are experiencing, or recovering from, domestic violence. They pride themselves on being inclusive, welcoming women from any background, ethnicity, sexuality or ability, including trans women. As well as having a safe place refuge for these women and children, they run English classes and activities and offer legal and financial advice to further support them.

Women’s rights have always been important to me, but only in the last few years have I realised – or rather, learnt – that BME women suffer in a different way to white women. Feminism may seem all-encompassing but the foundations are based on white, middle class and able-bodied women without the mention of BME women let alone those in varying financial situations, those with different migratory statuses, different languages or cultures. This is where intersectional and black feminism comes in. LAWA is based upon these theories and prides itself on being inclusive.

The work they do is what attracted me to them, as well as the fact that the team is made up of wonderful and talented BME women speaking Spanish and/or Portuguese.

When Salma and I had that initial chat it was up in the air as to whether or not I could join the team due to the upcoming HarperCollins assessment day and if I were to get the job or not. I would have to commit to one day a week, but this of course would not be possible with the full-time traineeship. So when I heard that I wasn’t chosen for the traineeship, I was initially disappointed and disheartened. But it has actually been a blessing in disguise, as now I can commit to working with Salma and the team for one day a week as a Monitoring and Evaluations Assistant working alongside the Knowledge Officer. We’ll be collating information about the women and children who use LAWA’s services, reporting on key information, and organising focus groups to find out just what these service users think about their time with the organisation.

I’ll be acquiring new skills along the way, working in an office environment which is pretty new to me, as well as learning more about intersectional feminism, domestic violence and the importance of the work that LAWA does.