Hey Gemma, so good to have you here to share your perspective! Can you tell us a bit of yourself first?
Hi! I’m Gemma, I’m 20, and I’m currently a student at the University of Manchester, studying International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response and French. I’m from Littlehampton (West Sussex), and I love the sea. Early morning paddle boards are my favourite when I don’t sleep through my alarm! I also love reading and am a raging extrovert, so spending time with family and friends is a must every day, which includes Jesus(!), who has become my best friend over time.
That’s great! Now let’s talk about the Emerging Influencers programme. When did you do it, and why?
I did the programme from February to March this year. I’d realised more over the past year, or so that social justice was a fundamental part of what faith looks like when lived out. This was partly from the Just Love society (a social justice group) I was part of and having already had a genuine interest in the issue of violence against women. So I knew I had to learn more! And when some friends sign-posted the Emerging Influencers course to me, I realised it was perfect.
Did any of your ideas around justice change due to the course? If so, how?
For me, Emerging Influencers changed what I thought in a way I didn’t expect. A lot of what I believed about justice issues before starting the course didn’t change. Still, I had only ever heard about social justice in drabs in a news article, Bible passages, or prayer at church. I had never connected the dots or even seen that that was possible. What Emerging Influencers did well was put so much information together that created links between the Bible, prayer, the realities of this world and what we can do to help.
We love that the course was able to unite those themes together for you. What would you say was your main takeaway?
That my voice makes a real difference! As a young woman, I often feel that what I say won’t be heard, but that’s not true! And throughout the course, we were given great advice on how to practically make a change in our churches, social groups, universities or workplaces, and the list goes on. I left the course with so much more confidence in my ability.
How did you find the fundraising aspect of the course?
Not that hard! The most helpful tip I have is not to be afraid of getting your friends involved. I did The Climb with about eight friends, where we climbed the equivalent of Kilimanjaro on a cool-looking set of stairs in our local park. It was a great way of seeing friends and the perfect opportunity to chat about what I learned during Emerging Influencers. We got to tell people we met in the park too, which was awesome!
You can check out my Just Giving fundraising page for more information here!
Now, Gemma, the course sounds great. But what have been your next steps after doing Emerging Influencers?
I recently finished training to run a course that teaches people how to be an ‘active bystander‘ to domestic and sexual abuse. The course shared how people can respond positively and realistically when they see signs of it. I want to push out this to educate people better so I’m going to run it at universities near me! I’m also talking to my church back home about how we can become better supporters of this issue; and how we can start talking about racial injustice and environmental issues.
Why would you recommend someone does our course?
Quite simply, do it! You will receive such awesome teaching, and the mentoring from one of the team was a real privilege. It will challenge your heart but seeing so many like-minded young people is so encouraging!
It will be really worth your time.
If anything Gemma has said has made you want to sign up too, then please check out our website and register your interest!