When lockdown was announced, I panicked thinking how am I going to work creatively and effectively. It took me weeks to get into a routine of my own, one that worked around myself, family commitments, and with my mother stranded in war-torn Yemen, it was babysitting between zoom meetings. When I turned 25 and my teenage sisters laid out my favourite snacks and drinks, I wore my birthday outfit and facetimed my mother but her internet connection wouldn’t hold longer than a quick hello and, how are you?
Two months had passed and the war in Yemen was only getting worse. I stayed up thinking of all the things I could do to get my mother home. One night, I tweeted my frustration to strangers who inturn expressed their love and concern and though it brought me comfort, I still felt hopeless.
The next day a local councillor, Abdul Basit Qadir came across my tweet and personally helped me to find ways to arrange flights from Yemen to the UK for those who were stranded. Though it took another five months of petitions, calling the Yemeni-British embassy and tweeting members of Parliament for support; our families were returned home safely. We were successful for two reasons; the selfless efforts of people who care about others and the power of the internet.
What has this story got to do with digital marketing? In the first week of Agent Academy, when we explored our own values and the importance of living by them, it all made sense quickly; what connects us is the principles we share together. In other words, activism. Ever since I had access to the internet, I have used social media to connect to people globally, to advocate for change and bring unheard voices to the centre of the conversation.
Every week has been challenging but exciting; we have had different guest speakers from a range of experts from across the city region who have shaped our learning around digital marketing and the themes of the campaign. I feel privileged to join the rest of the students taking part in this Agent Academy programme and work collectively with The Anthony Walker Foundation on a digital reporting tool, which aims to encourage young people across Liverpool City region to feel confident to report a hate-crime.
As a Muslim woman growing up in Liverpool, The Anthony Walker Foundation has had a big impact on my life. I was in secondary school when I first met Gee Walker and I remember the heaviness I felt on my chest upon hearing her story. I was angry and confused to learn about the horrific death of Anthony Walker. I had many questions and I was not sure how to articulate my thoughts at the age of 12, but I knew that all I wanted to do was make our world a safer place to live in.
I wish I had known how to report a hate-crime 10 years ago – it would have saved a lot of tears at school bus stops, running home and escaping your mother so she wouldn’t see the scars on your face. Unfortunately, there are many stories and our city is still fighting to find ways to tackle hate-crime. I believe this campaign will have an incredible impact on young people’s lives online and in-person because everyone deserves to feel safe.