Where are They Now? Rosie Leatherland, who studied English Language at Newcastle

At A Level I chose English Literature, English Language and Drama – all very similar in lots of ways! I was very clear on what I was good at and, as is often the case, those were the things that aligned with what I enjoyed. I did a lot of writing, acting and reading during that final year of school, and that’s exactly what I wanted!

I then chose to study English Language at Newcastle University, as although I was certain I wanted to work in the charity sector, I wasn’t sure of the exact role I was looking for, so keeping my options open was important to me. I chose to go to Newcastle because it had a great reputation for the course, but also for student experience, and I knew the Students’ Union was going to be a big part of my time at University. The breadth of choice of societies and activities really stood out to me.

During my final year I was elected as Activities Officer at Newcastle Students’ Union, which was a Sabbatical Officer role for one year. I started this role in the summer after my finals, and it was the most incredible experience, governing at the highest level of the organisation, and learning quickly so many of the skills I use now every day. I was responsible for overseeing the work of 125 student societies, and organising events like Fresher’s Fair, Graduation Ball and Raising and Giving Week. Between the 6 officers, we represented all 22,000 students on campus and worked with the University on an array of important decisions.

In 2014 I started a graduate scheme in London called Charityworks, the UK’s leading non-profit scheme for young people interested in starting a career in the third sector. I had a full time placement at Age UK for one year, where I worked in the Public Affairs and Campaigns team. I contributed to the organisation’s General Election campaign, working with local partners to encourage prospective parliamentary candidates to become ‘Age Champions’ by championing people over 65 in their policy making and in their constituency if successfully elected. Alongside my role, I had a mentor who was a Labour Councillor and a trustee for a leading third sector organisation, and I was part of a peer network of over 100 others. We received training twice a month on different areas of the charity sector, and wrote assignments in line with our day-to-day work. It was a truly valuable experience and I learnt from that year exactly what I wanted to do in the sector and where my skills could add the most value.

Following my year at Age UK, I applied for a role at Alzheimer’s Society, working on their initiative to create the first dementia-friendly parliament in the world, and leading their activity at the political party conferences. Since then, I have secured a more senior position at the organisation as Public Affairs and Campaigning Officer, managing a campaign called Fix Dementia Care, and working on an exhibition stand at both Labour and Conservative Conference, which at the Labour Conference was awarded Best Third Sector Stand for 2016. A typical week in my role would involve overseeing supporter and parliamentary engagement for a particular stream of our campaign, for example ahead of the Chancellor’s Spring Budget, I have been working on our strategy in any given scenario on the Government’s approach to social care funding. I will generally be in Parliament every other week either meeting MPs to discuss dementia-related campaigning issues, or attending events. I am also honoured to be part of a mentoring programme with the Fabians Society Women’s Network, which is a political education programme for women to enable them to participate in politics and public life as politicians and in public appointments. Through the programme I have an incredibly inspiring mentor who has a number of public appointments, and have had the pleasure of receiving advice from a number of courageous female MPs, as well as workshops at Labour HQ, European Parliament and in the Shadow Cabinet room.

I am really fortunate to work and be mentored alongside some very talented people who are leading the way in social change here and across the world. The third sector is a very rewarding and exciting place to be.

Rosie Leatherland