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You are not fake, you are champions

Thursday, 26 October 2017 Written by Tina Carr , Director, Rory Peck Trust

At the heart of the freelance community is where the Rory Peck Trust has always belonged - and always will.

It takes confidence and courage to write asking for financial help. And even more confidence to think about the future.

In fact - how can you think about the future when you need to think how to stay safe, pay the rent, buy medicine, eat?

This is what a grant from the Rory Peck Trust can do – it’s what we call basic subsistence and is often the most immediate way we can help a freelancer or their family in a critical situation. But the money does more than that - it can give someone time to think - how to get beyond the  immediate crisis? what’s happening to the people closest to you? What next?

And this is where the Trust comes in again. Because with every case we work on, we’re thinking “What next? What advice can we offer? How can we help this person stay safe? Move forward?” The longer-term - you can’t measure this kind of thing, but I think – in terms of an individual human being - that’s what you can call impact.

Half a Rory Peck lifetime ago, when the Trust was about 10 years old, we began to attract ‘proper’ grown-up kind of funding. 

Our priorities were pretty clear: We wanted to operate globally and reach more freelancers especially those in the areas of greatest need; we wanted to have a more meaningful impact on the lives of those we help; we wanted people to understand how valuable freelancers are to journalism. And in order for all this to happen, and top of the list of priorities – we needed to make sure that the Trust would survive.

We’re doing all of these things. And, as you’ll see in the 2017 Awards brochure the many individuals and organisations who support us have all helped to make this happen and we are so grateful to you all - you are the best – and freelancers deserve to be supported by the best. 

To small charities, commitment is a lifeline. Since the start of 2017, we’ve received 375 requests for support, and have only been able to provide 120 assistance grants. Anyone who’s ever done any fundraising knows how fragile success can be – when budgets get chopped, charity becomes an unaffordable luxury. We value every single donation we receive.

So what next for the Rory Peck Trust?  What can I say – truthfully – about our vision except this: in an ideal world, we wouldn’t exist.

Journalists would no longer be threatened for doing their work, freelancers would be valued and treated as equals with staff, they’d be looked after in times of crisis, they’d also be able to look after themselves – and most importantly they’d be able to continue bringing us stories, images and sending out smoke signals.

BUT let’s get real. 

While we celebrate their achievement at these Awards, ​we know that the challenges freelancers face are changing. The frontline has shifted and is all around us. It’s physical. It’s psychological. It’s digital. The mistrust of journalists is leading to greater dangers – and from unexpected sources. As ever, we’re adapting and developing our activities to meet these challenges, but after 21 years, our mission and dedication remain the same. And so here - at the heart of  ​the freelance​ community - is where the Rory Peck Trust has always belonged - and always will .
 
TO FREELANCE JOURNALISTS AROUND THE WORLD – WE WANT TO SAY:

You are not fake. You are champions. And we’re here for you and your families in a crisis. We’re also trying to help you be wise before the event, with safety training, online resources and information specifically for you.

But as we all know, bad things can happen to wise people. And sometimes the wrong or uninformed decision can lead to devastating results. At the Rory Peck Trust, our role isn’t to judge. It is to be there. Because whatever you’ve done, you have – most likely - done it alone.

We don’t encourage risk taking –– but if you stumble and fall – if you are in fear of your life – if you feel you have nowhere else to go for help - we are here for you.

We want to be able to say this and know that it's true. 

- Tina Carr 
 
Photo credit: Caitlin Mogride/RPT

Download the Rory Peck Awards Brochure and Annual Review 2017



This is an edited version of the speech Tina gave at the Rory Peck Awards 2017 on Monday 23 October.

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