Apprentices Making a Difference Series: From Amateur Football Manager to Digital Marketeer

Jun 29, 2020

An interview with soon to be Digital Marketing Apprentice, Karl, and Community Manager, Siobhan Randell, as part of our Apprentices Making a Difference Series. 

June is the month where we celebrate Pride and I’m delighted to be interviewing Karl, who is soon to begin his digital marketing apprenticeship and is a member of WhiteHat’s Apprentice LGBTQ+ Network. Karl is 20 years old and from Chingford, East London. At the end of Sixth Form, Karl knew he wanted to pursue an apprenticeship and began a procurement apprenticeship. However, he came to the realisation that a career in procurement wasn’t for him. It was his love of football and supporting the local community that helped him to discover his passion and land a dream role at global marketing and technology agency, Digitas, starting in October 2020.

Karl utilising his football team to promote local businesses in Chingford

How did you get started with volunteering?

I wanted to get back into football when I started Sixth Form to keep active and catch up with some old friends. I thought the clubs in Chingford charged unreasonable fees to their players despite generating revenue from sponsorships. We started as just a group of my friends and now we have over 30 in the team.

So how did you go from amateur football to working with local businesses?

We have a little high street leading up to Chingford station, and I've seen so many businesses appear and disappear over the last 15 years. I think it's really important to support local businesses because it helps to make the community a better place to live. You usually end up becoming close with the business owners over time, and you can't really have that connection with a chain or a franchise. I wanted to help out our favourite local shops and restaurants, so we promoted them through our social media accounts that had developed quite a following over the first two years. Sometimes businesses struggle to market themselves effectively, so we were able to connect them with customers who may not have known about them otherwise.

What skills do you feel you've developed through your volunteering?

Running a football club at any level is quite a big undertaking, so I had to learn to put on many different hats in the beginning. I had to be the secretary and communicate with the league and the football association one day, and be the kit-man and sew holes in socks the next. It really helped me manage my tasks and deadlines effectively and my time management improved a lot. My confidence definitely rose after having to meet in person with lots of different businesses to try and secure funding for the club's operations.

It's great to see that you've joined our WhiteHat community and got involved with our networks straight away. In your own words, what's the importance of Pride Month to you?

It's always nice when you go into a new environment and you see lots of friendly faces willing to help you settle. When I visited the Digitas office and the WhiteHat website, I really felt like a part of an inclusive community. A lot of progress has been made in regards to LGBTQ+ rights in the UK, but there's still work to do. I am fortunate to be able to be an openly bisexual man, and I am grateful for my very supportive family and friends. I do, however, know many people who aren't comfortable with being open about their sexuality due to their experiences of prejudice and discrimination. The LGBTQ+ community has long been linked with other civil rights movements, namely racial equality; the pride movement was started by black trans women, after all. I think it's important for others to show their support through their actions, such as signing petitions and calling out people around them who use discriminatory language.

What type of things have you been doing to support other minority communities, particularly the black community in light of recent tragic events?

As I said, it's very important to support others with actions rather than words alone. There are thousands of online petitions that can be signed in the name of racial equality both in the US and the UK. It is also important to educate yourself about certain issues that non-black people are less likely to experience; there is a wealth of information available online, and you should make use of this rather than consulting your black friends on sensitive topics. For change to happen, it is not enough to not be racist, we must be actively anti-racist. Do your bit by educating those close to you if necessary and challenge those you come across spreading hatred.

WhiteHat Community Members can find out more about volunteering, including inspirational stories and opportunities, by joining the Apprentices Making a Difference group on the Community Hub.

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