Shocking use of free labour in joint charity campaign

2013 is going to be an exciting year for international development charities. They are launching an ambitious joint campaign to combat poverty which aims to be bigger than 2005’s mass mobilisation, Make Poverty History. As you might expect, the campaign will need some competent fresh hands. The NGOs want your energy, time and labour.

But guess what, folks? They won’t pay you a penny for it…

Below is a typical advertisement from CAFOD. It is for a 3 days a week internship lasting for up to 10 months.

If you look carefully at the advertisement, this is a press officer/ assistant role that requires a considerable skill level and previous experience as well as an interest in, and knowledge of international development. The post will probably attract Masters graduates interested in a media/ comms career with a few months work experience in a similar office situation – a previous internship perhaps? With the jobs market how it is, CAFOD will be able to cherry pick the top candidate from 100s of applications.

What great experience this will be – you might think. It certainly sounds glamorous to be in the middle of an exciting campaign and liaising with so many prestigious organisations. But wait a minute. What guarantees are there here for you, the intern? Will they offer you training, mentoring and support? Or do they just want your FREE labour? Yes building up that network of contacts is invaluable for breaking into the sector – but how do you know for sure that they’re going to treat you with respect? This is a busy organisation full of busy people and as the unpaid intern you will be on the bottom of the pile.

But most importantly, CAFOD is a large organisation with an income of £56m Рdo you not think they could have factored in a living wage for interns into their year planning?

No, this role is down as ‘voluntary’ – but it’s not for retired press officers or journalists who wish to offer their time for free – it’s for those looking to enter the sector. In other words, it is an entry-level position that CAFOD will not have to pay for. Only those who can afford to work part-time for free for 10 months will have access to it. IS THIS FAIR?


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