Youth Music is proud to be a Living Wage Friendly Funder and a Living Wage Employer. We're celebrating Living Wage Week 2018 by acknowledging all the amazing work the Living Wage Foundation has done so far.
I’ve benefited personally from being paid the London Living Wage, back in 2017 when I first started at Youth Music as a Digital Marketing Intern. You can read my story here.
I spoke with two of my colleagues about life, careers and the benefits of the Living Wage.
Domenica’s story is similar to mine – she started out as our Grants and Learning Intern in 2017 and has now progressed to a full-time position as our Programme Coordinator.
Kelly is our Fundraising Intern and is on a nine month contract until March 2019.
Why did Youth Music as an organisation appeal to you?
Domenica: As someone who grew up in challenging circumstances, and being given creative opportunities that made a huge impact on my life, Youth Music's work was appealing to me, because I understand the impact that these opportunities can have on a child's life and why it's so important.
Kelly: Youth Music appealed to me because it is such an exciting organisation. They help invest in music-making projects for children and young people and I’m really passionate about music so it seemed like a perfect fit that I would get to work in the industry as well as work for a highly effective charity that has such a positive impact on so many lives.
Did the fact that Youth Music pays its interns the London Living Wage appeal to you more?
D. I would say yes, because I knew that with being young and going into an entry-level job, you’re way more at risk of falling into a job that pays minimum wage, which isn’t enough – or worse, an internship that doesn’t pay at all.
K. I’ve just come from doing my studying and I needed paid employment. The fact this internship is paid at the London Living Wage made it that much better and I knew it would be more sustainable.
Why do you think the Living Wage is important for young people starting out in their careers?
D. I think paying the real Living Wage to young people is important for them because having a regular income allows them to become more independent. I know a lot of young people want to be able to give back to their parents/carers financially as well and being paid the Living Wage would allow them to do so. Having their own regular income also gives them the freedom to make the most out of life.
K. Living wage allows young people to develop their skills confidently. Young people are able to learn and grow as both individuals and employees. It allows the next generation of the workforce to flourish at the start of their careers, knowing they will be compensated fairly.
What's a personal benefit of being paid the London Living Wage?
K. I can afford to have some fun whilst living in central London.
D. Once you’ve got your bills and stuff out of the way, you’ve still got a little bit of extra change to do more leisurely things in your spare time. I think it’s really important to have that work/life balance.
What are your thoughts on unpaid internships?
K. They should be illegal; they’re taking advantage of people that aren’t able to do anything else. Employers think they are doing you a favour if they are only paying your expenses or giving you only experience. Especially in London it’s not acceptable.
D. I really don’t know why it’s still a thing. It cuts off so many people because it’s only those that can afford to work for free that can access these opportunities. Unpaid internships are not the same as volunteering, because with volunteering it’s usually only a small amount of your time you have to give away (a couple of hours/days a week), but when you’re having people work for 30-40 hours a week unpaid, that is unacceptable.
Youth Music is based in London (although we fund music-making projects nationwide) so what are some of your favourite things to do in London?
K. There are endless opportunities and there are always interesting pop-up events and new things coming up that you can take part in. I’m not able to do anything luxurious but I can do basic things like go out with my friends every now and then.
D. There’s a lot to do in London, some might say too much! You’re never out of options if you want to go to a bar, theatre show, or a gig there’s something for everyone.
I’ve just started doing singing lessons, as that’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while but I’ve put off because singing lessons can be quite expensive – so that’s something nice I can do after work.
What’s been your most memorable moment working at Youth Music so far?
D. The staff gig! Performing with the staff ‘supergroup’ – I loved it, it was so much fun – terrifying, but fun!
Domenica took part in the Youth Music staff fundraising gig which was part of Give a Gig Week 2018. You can check out the highlights video below:
What's coming up at Youth Music that you're looking forward to?
K. There are lots of exciting things coming up: Give a Gig Week 2019, 100 Choirs in a Weekend (taking place Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 December, when we’ll have 100 choirs singing and raising money for us at railway stations around the country), and a fundraising event on Tuesday 20 November held at Dirty Bones (an awesome Shoreditch restaurant who are kindly supporting us) and featuring DJs from Reprezent (a Brixton-based radio station where we’re currently funding a project for aspiring young producers).
What would you say to encourage other employers to introduce the Living Wage?
D. Regardless of what you think people should be paid, at the end of the day, everyone can’t earn 50k+ a year, there are people who end up in lower paid jobs for various reasons, that doesn’t mean they should have to live in poverty, they shouldn’t have to worry if they’re going to be able to pay their rent, or if they can feed their kids because that’s just not right. I think it should be a moral obligation to make sure your employees can actually live on the wage that you pay them.
K. It’s about respect, treating your employees with respect and understanding their worth as people. The national minimum wage is not an appropriate amount in London and to ask employees to provide their best self to you every day for an amount that isn’t fair – that’s just unacceptable. You should pay something that’s enough for them to live.
Our Living Wage commitment
As a Living Wage Friendly Funder, we encourage and support the organisations we invest in to pay the Living Wage, and to become accredited Living Wage Employers themselves.