My name is Millie Shoebridge and I’m 24 years old. I work full time as a programme officer for an organization that helps refugees re-enter higher-education or requalification. My hobbies are radio presenting and production, I volunteer for a few different radio stations and I used to host a podcast, basically I love chatting. I read a lot of books and magazines, a mixture of political commentary and celebrity gossip too, I like to match the high with the low at all times. I enjoy seeing all the different communities in Bristol come together as proud Bristolians, the city’s identity is strong and made me feel welcome from day one. I love sitting by the river, watching the sunset, seeing people all around me having a laugh and just enjoying the moment.
Some might say that coming from a single-parent working-class rural background is a barrier, but actually when I compare my experience to those of other children growing up in the world these barriers are minimal.
If I had to say what was the biggest hurdle, I would argue it is living in a rural location, often a much forgotten or lesser spoken about barrier but this complete lack of access to opportunities, events and networking makes it extremely hard to even envisage a future that does not reflect the situation you live in. Just because you live in a village as opposed to a city, young people are still just as interested in photography, or acting, or politics. I think sometimes that barrier is neglected.
I think if I had been asked this question, about what barriers I had faced, when younger and in my teenage years I would have gone deep into the hardships faced, but as I have gotten older, I don’t reflect back on them as barriers but instead just the situation I found myself in. I could have been born into a lap of luxury and done much worse, it’s how you deal with your situation that affects the content of your character. But I say this with acknowledgement that many peoples situations are tremendously harder and more difficult to navigate than my own and it is up to them to decide how they measure and asses their barriers.
If I think back to when my parents grew up, I think there is so much more support for young people from all walks of backgrounds now, the number of charities working to support young people is tremendous, of course it is not perfect, but it is a heck of a lot better than what it used to be, and I think that is worth noting. I think organizations like Babbasa would have been a life line for eighteen year old me and I am so glad there are people out there for whom their professional life is to support the empowerment of young people from disadvantage backgrounds.
I have always believed the world owes you nothing, no one has a right to a easy life and I think it is this work ethic, that nothing will be handed to me and that I have to make my own luck has been my main motivation when I think about work or education.
I heard of Babbasa through social media. I worked with them on their mentoring and Youth Ambassador City of Change program.
This program firstly gave me a sense of hope after university, which was for the first time in my life a moment when I was not constantly achieving. I was so used to being busy and being known as someone who finds opportunities and does well to then be out of work for 4 months, the longest ever since I was fifteen was a real shock and definitely a good dose of humble. I assumed after university I would not ever need to ask for help, so when I came across this organisation and they offered to provide me with mentoring and the opportunity to work with other young people on an impact project it was the motivation and purpose I really needed in that point of my life.
Big thanks to Zoe for reaching out to me like that.
I think a massive experience I will take from this is how interesting, enjoyable, and lovely it is to work with people from the ages of 17 up from all different backgrounds. The little conversations I would start up with the other members when we would go into our break-out rooms, I loved finding out about their lives and their dreams and goals. I found it really rewarding, everyone was so kind and thoughtful and such brilliant young people. They will all go on to do amazing things and they have definitely made an impact on me. I was always very aware to make sure people feel comfortable and confident (and not talk too much myself) and I loved having that opportunity in the break out rooms to connect with people and hear what they had to say, they were often a lot more talkative when in smaller groups and it was amazing to have that time to learn from each other.
I have two sides of me that run through me, one part of me has always wanted to work in politics, especially on a global scale and with a big focus on charitable work, especially international development. I threw myself into that world and did so many internships and I know I could carry on and have a good career in that.
But the other side of me loves entertaining and would adore to work in radio, just speaking to people everyday and connecting with an audience, making people feel good and interested in the topics and issues I care about. However, I always feel guilty about this as I have always believed if your work does not directly make the lives of those less fortunate than yourself better than what is the point of your work. So I wander if I went into radio would I look back on my life and regret not working in the fields of equality and justice etc…
For now I work in the charity sector, but I am working hard on the side-lines to do more in radio and so I hope my perseverance pays off one day, just to say I did, even if it is only for a bit.
I see myself in 6 months in the same job, I see myself in 1 year hopefully moving into a role that includes more face-to-face time and less face to laptop time. I am a chatter and I need my pay slips to reflect that, staring at a screen all day does my nut in sometimes. In 5 years I do not have one version of my life but many that I would be happy going down, if this pandemic has taught me anything it is to not stress the future, what will happen will happen and we just got to deal with it when it comes. But yes, I would also like my own radio show.
My advice to any young person would be to make your own luck, nobody got anything from waiting for the right time or for it to be perfect, just get up and do, whatever it is you want, make that first step and keep that momentum going. And never ever care about what people think… why? Because almost all of the time they don’t actually care about what you do, your siting there thinking everyone is going to judge you and they haven’t even noticed you, everyone is so consumed in their own lives to make a comment on yours, so more doing less thinking.