Power Shift, for me, is what Never Neverland is for Wendy, what Narnia is for Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, and what Hogwarts is for Harry: a magical place where dreams really do come true. In my case, those dreams are being part of the global divestment movement, feeling included in something bigger than myself, and broadening my skill set to become an all-round better activist.
Pretty impressive, no?
What if I told you that it was also a tonne of fun? Completely accessible? That my Student Union paid for my travel, food and accommodation? That the experience led to me pursuing opportunities as a People & Planet Regional Organiser for Wales and the South West? That I made some friends for life? All this, and more...
The thing about Power Shift is that it fundamentally transformed my Uni experience. Hearing about how other students were using their positions of privilege within the Higher Education system to demand positive change, and learning how to do the same thing, was a game changer for me.
I had heard about the divestment movement before Uni, and even sent a few tentative emails to the high-ups enquiring as to how to get my uni to divest (but to no avail). The whole thing seemed like a far away dream, and I had absolutely no idea what the next steps were after being stone-walled. To top it off, explaining the importance of divestment and the climate movement as a whole to my peers proved very difficult - I simply did not have the words or knowledge to do so effectively. I had the will, but not the way.
Power Shift changed all that. Through workshops and one-to-one chats with People & Planet staff and students from other universities, the path to divestment gradually started to become clear in my mind. The small steps towards the larger goal were explained, and I no longer felt like a lone campaigner shouting to an empty room.
Almost a year on from Power Shift, what I and my fellow activists in the Environment Society at UWTSD have managed to achieve are not unimpressive: several SU motions passed into policy including a ban on domestic flights, an SU boycott of Barclays bank due to their investment in fossil fuels and the SU becoming a Real Living Wage employer, effective immediately. Also, we have been lobbying the University to affiliate to Electronics Watch and to come clean about their divestment plans, along with countless petitions and awareness raising events.
Power Shift sparked the fire in me that started me on my activist journey, and that I hope to continue for a long time yet. This year at Power Shift I hope to run a workshop myself and contribute to inspiring new activists the way the People & Planet community inspired, and continues to inspire, me.
Like a true Room of Requirement in Harry Potter, Power Shift provides you with skills you've always wanted to have, and more you never knew you needed besides. Look forward to seeing you there!