The power of a compassionate workplace: Saying goodbye to Rife

Photo credit goes to Qezz Gill.

Aggie reflects on her experience of a compassionate working environment at Rife Magazine

When I first heard about the Creative Workforce for the Future programme I was working at Clifton Village Boston Tea Party. Despite meeting some amazing people, the hectic environment wasn’t good for me. I was hoping to leave as soon as possible to find a role in the creative industries. Thus, I was overjoyed to check my phone one day and find an email invitation to an interview.

Two weeks later, I walked out of the Creative Workforce for the Future group interview and intuitively said to someone, ‘I think I did well, I think I’ll get something out of it’. And I did. After a slightly bumpy start of swapping placements, I had landed the job at Rife Magazine.

I began working alongside four other young, talented trainees in a small office in the Pervasive Media studio at Watershed. I spent a lot of the first few weeks wondering what I was doing there. I was struggling with low self-esteem and insomnia and I felt like I didn’t know who I was or what I was capable of.

Things became more complicated when after a few weeks of being in the Watershed, the pandemic lockdown began and we were all sent home. It was a shock at first, but working from home, surprisingly, became a beneficial opportunity to slow down. Albeit hidden in disguise.

It was hard at first. There were days when I was depressed, unable to be fully present in meetings, and I felt disconnected from the work. In addition to this, getting used to Zoom contact was challenging – it was not the most organic way to build working relationships. However, how the Rife team interacted with us throughout this last year has made a drastic difference to how comfortable I was throughout the placement. 

If any of the trainees were a bit late because they felt low, we were excused. We also knew we could talk to either Adibah, Sammy or Bex about what was going on with us personally. If we were having a really bad week, we could take time off. We also had weekly hourly meetings with Adibah to talk, not just about our skills, values and training, but also our personal lives too. How were things going with us on the whole as individuals? 

Being recognised as a full human being in the workplace, not just someone that can offer skills, lifted me up. It helped me to heal at a point in my life when I needed to do just that. When I reflect now, I can see that the compassion of my team has enabled me over a long period of time to learn how to be compassionate with myself.

Being recognised as a full human being in the workplace, not just someone that can offer skills, lifted me up. It helped me to heal at a point in my life when I needed the time to do just that.

Having Adibah as my mentor has been amazing; she hasn’t just supported me, but checked me and educated me greatly on inclusivity. She has helped me realise when I am being blinded by my own life experiences.

Bex is a ray of sunshine, very skilled in film work and photography and a blessing to be on a team with. I really enjoy seeing her flourish at work because I connect with her free-spirit character, which is a quality I see in myself that often gets squashed by society. It has been great to see her being successful.

What I really needed was someone to listen to me, to help reflect back to me who I was. Having the space to express myself creatively and having equality and diversity training was a massive added bonus from being on the programme.

Sammy has a lovely spirit and has helped me massively on the harder days – the days when when the self-doubt has crept in. She has been there to comfort me and remind me that sometimes it’s normal to feel that way.

In general I have seen a big shift in myself over the last ten months, not just through work; as I have done a lot of work on myself too. However, there is something massive to be said for being supported by a working structure that has encouraged me to be kinder to myself and allowed me to take the time to become the person I can be.

I now feel confident to take on an opportunity knowing who I am and what my values are, and knowing there is so much room for growth on top of that. I also met some amazingly talented trainees that I have been blessed to learn from this year. For me now though, I plan to keep reading, learning and being compassionate with myself before embarking on the adventure of a Masters next year. And I am so thankful to the support of the team for making me feel confident enough to be ready for that.

Lastly, I hope that one day workplaces will take shape with compassionate values being the driving force behind their approach. I know more compassionate workplaces would make a massive difference to the world, as it has to me this year. Thank you.

Do you work in a compassionate environment? Let us know on social media.

Support more young people to have their voices heard

Rife is Watershed‘s online magazine created for young people, by young people.

We offer paid internships and publish work by young writers, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers from all sorts of backgrounds, helping them get into creative careers. Rife has reached over 8,000 young people through our workshops, over 220 young people have made stuff for Rife on topics ranging from mental health to identity to baked beans, and last year, over 200,000 people visited our website.

In these complex and uncertain times hearing from and supporting young people who are advocating for social change and contributing fresh perspectives has never been so important. 

Through supporting Rife you can ensure that this important work continues and that more young people have their voices heard.