My two weeks of work experience in Fitzrovia

By Nathan Jacobson

The last resort: working in Fitzrovia

For the past two weeks I’ve been doing work experience with Fitzrovia News and the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, which is a registered charity. Highbury Grove School sent me out to find a work placement so that I could get a taste of the world of work. I applied to lots of places but no-one would take me. As a last resort I applied to work in Fitzrovia.

I’ve been doing lots of boring stuff like answering the phone and photocopying bits of paper then feeding stuff into the shredding machine. But other times it has been quite enjoyable and I met lots of interesting people.

I’ve learnt about things like “health and safety at work”, “employment rights”, “economies of scale”, “unfair labour practices”, and producing a neighbourhood newspaper and helping to deliver it without getting my fingers caught in people’s letter boxes. I also learnt how to write on a blog with WordPress.

Some people I met were more interesting than others. I met pensioners who had lived in the area all of their lives and were keen to talk to me about how things have changed.

The BT Tower. Apparently the Angry Brigade tried to blow this up in the 1970s because modern architecture made them more angry

But the best thing was spending one morning this week escorting what seemed to be an octogenarian Jedi Knight with a wooden light sabre as he pointed out things called “development sites” to a lady from Camden Council. She seemed to be spending the best part of International Women’s Day being talked at by this local patriarch who had nothing good to say about local government. I was told by my mentor that this was quite normal for Fitzrovia.

My mentor for the fortnight asked me if my two weeks in Fitzrovia had turned out what I expected it to be. He seemed quite surprised when I said “Yes, it’s been exactly like I thought it would be. Pretty boring.” He again seemed to think this was perfectly normal.

I’ve realised that voluntary organisations do an important job by, for example, helping older people, giving advice, and making sure people are not isolated and lonely. In Fitzrovia a lot of work is done by volunteers who deal with things like licensing and planning. I learnt that Westminster City Council and Camden Council have committees for planning and licensing decisions.

A lot of the time you have to think for yourself in work. You need to be able to do your job unsupervised at times and use your initiative.

The Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association paid for me to have a nice lunch each day in return for the helping with lots of little jobs. Fitzrovia is a nice place with strange people and I will never forget this experience.

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