Change makers: people like us

Journey to Justice inspires and empowers people to take action for social justice through learning about human rights movements. Elizabeth has just joined their steering committee - she shares her belief that anyone can become a change maker. 

If you’d walked past me in the street, you wouldn’t bat an eyelid. I’m your average 25 year old: median height, medium features and sporting a mid-range outfit. Maybe you’ll catch me on a good day as I flash you a smile. If you were to stop and watch me go along my way, you may think I’m walking back from work, or popping to the shops or meandering through town to avoid facing the gym for a wee while longer.

You might watch me lift my head and see my eyes glisten as I map the clouds overhead. Perhaps you’d think ‘Ah, she’s working out if it might rain.’

You may see me walk in time to the music popping from my earphones, or mutter partially formed lyrics whilst I swiftly remember that I’m in public and awkwardly look round and hope no one was watching.

‘What does this person do?’ you might think. What gets her pulse racing and her stomach so irate with passion it gurgles aloud?

Or perhaps you quite rightly, overlook me entirely as you skip from doorway to underpass, avoiding the premature splashes of rain and carry on about your daily business.

Well, you were right; I am an average 25 year old testing my chances in the rain. I’ve got a job, I pay rent and drive a car. Behind the façade, I’m also a change maker.

I work for a youth development organisation which strives to create equal opportunities for all. Outside of this, I’m also a writer; blogging for Youth for Change, a UNICEF led programme Voices of Youth and Restless Development, a youth-led development agency. I’ve recently returned from a volunteer placement in rural Zambia working on accessible sexual health education as a youth empowerment initiative. Across 23 countries, I have immersed myself in new cultures, languages and different ways of celebrating life. Each experience adding another dimension to my understanding of global social justice.

And where am I headed tonight? I’m walking to University of Sunderland to take up my chair as a member of the Journey to Justice steering group. To listen, discuss and celebrate the struggle for human rights and strive for social justice right here in the heart of the North East. We’re putting our heads together to plan and organise the Journey to Justice multi-media travelling exhibition coming to Sunderland.

You may not think you have the capacity to make change. Perhaps you too, feel like just another average number in a whole world full of bigger and better digits. I recognise how impossible it can feel to be part of a global conversation on something when the action is taking place in some remote international conference or debate in a distant city or even another continent.

But here, on our doormat is Journey to Justice: the voluntary organisation that honours the on-going struggle for human rights. Through arts, culture and education they aim to inspire people and encourage those to take action for social justice. They stand to remind us, that social change doesn’t sit in a disconnected bubble, tucked away and out of reach. It begins with a single voice that scratches away at old paintwork, daring to ask the questions which challenge the status quo.

CHANGE IS NOT MERELY GIVEN, BUT MADE BY PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND I.

Imagine the rippling effect your input could make! Find out how you can learn more about the on-going journey to justice and get involved here