In April this year Youth Music became the first Living Wage Friendly Funder from the arts and culture sector. We're also a Living Wage Employer.
The Living Wage is a voluntary rate, calculated independently and based on the real cost of living in the UK and London. This week is Living Wage Week: the point each year when the new rates are announced.
As of 6 November 2017, the new UK Living Wage is £8.75 per hour, and the London Living Wage is £10.20 per hour. Paying the Living Wage means we can create opportunities.
At the start of November we welcomed three new interns to our team, who will be with us for six months.
To celebrate Living Wage Week, Digital Marketing Intern Nelle Williams interviewed colleagues Amber and Domenica about what the Living Wage means to them.
Amber, 22, is Youth Music's new Fundraising Intern.
She moved down from Leeds to London for the role.
Domenica, 25, is our new Grants and Learning Intern.
She lives in North London with her family.
Nelle: How has your first week been?
Amber: I'm helping with our main fundraising initiative Give a Gig Week. We are trying to get over 100 gigs to be put on by the public, to try and raise as much money as possible. I’m really enjoying it!
Domenica: The first week has gone really well: everyone is super nice and friendly. It’s been really cool to meet with the Grants and Learning team, and learn how each of them work.
Nelle: As I’m sure you know, Youth Music is a Living Wage Friendly Employer and Funder. What are your thoughts on this?
Domenica: I think it’s a good thing especially when you’re in a city like London, because it gets really expensive. I believe your wages should reflect where you live, there’s no point working somewhere where you can’t afford to live. The Living Wage is a good thing! And I’m glad that more organisations are introducing this into their company. I live at home but I think it’s even more important for people who don’t live at home.
Amber: It shows when an employer signs up to Living Wage, they have a real respect for their employees. It shows that they really value them, and they don’t just want them to be scraping by, worrying about working to each paycheque. Personally it has really helped me because if I was on government minimum wage I probably wouldn’t afford to be able to move to London, because it’s so expensive, I have no savings and I’m a recent graduate. That fact that I’m getting this fair salary allows me to get more experience in a sector that I’m really interested in without having to do it completely for free. This opens opportunities up to so many people. It makes you want to work harder because you are getting that little bit extra.
Nelle: This week is Living Wage Week and the new rates for the Living Wage have been announced. Today you received the news that the London Living Wage has risen from £9.70 per hour to £10.20 and you will now be paid the new rate. How do you feel? Were you aware of Living Wage Week beforehand?
Domenica: I didn’t know there such a thing as Living Wage Week so it was a nice surprise!
Amber: To be honest I was not aware it was Living Wage Week beforehand. But I knew what the Living Wage was and I knew it was important. That little bit of extra money could be a bit of a safety net that might be one less worry in terms of paying the bills.
Nelle: What does this paid internship at Youth Music mean to you? How do you believe it will help your future goals and opportunities?
Amber: It’s really important to me because I can work for a cause that I passionately believe in and it also means that I can get experience in a sector without being unpaid. There’s only a certain amount of voluntary work you can do to actually survive, and there does come a point where you need to start working. It’s a perfect foot on a ladder that I probably wouldn’t have been able to get without Youth Music.
Domenica: I just appreciate that I get to learn something new and develop skills I already have, whilst also being paid. I hope that with this opportunity I will have a better understanding of youth projects, music education and what an impactful project looks like. I want to know what it means to give opportunities to people who don’t necessarily have access to creative opportunities and diversifying the creative sector, because as someone who has been a part of that I realise what a big impact that was for me.
Nelle: Did the internship being paid appeal to you more than any other internship?
Amber: Absolutely! There’s no way that I would have been able to do a six month unpaid internship, and I don’t think very many people could, unless you know you could be fully supported by parents, or you saved like crazy, which most young people haven’t. The fact that it was paid meant that I could do it.
Domenica: It appealed to me more because I knew it was Living Wage, so I knew it was a decent salary, because sometimes with paid internships the pay is still very low and they won’t meet that mark. So that fact that Youth Music was paying the Living Wage shows that they have thought about it and they do care, and reflected what I thought of the company.
Nelle: Would you have chosen to do the internship if it was unpaid?
Domenica: No! Absolutely not! As a 25 year old it’s not feasible. I can’t imagine at my age doing anything unpaid, at least not for six months.
Amber: If it was unpaid I may have been able to do it for two weeks, but I would have barely gained any experience in two weeks as opposed to six months. At our age most jobs do ask for experience but how do you get the experience if there isn’t anything like this? Without paid internships it’s impossible.
Nelle: Have you done any low pay or unpaid internships before? If so how long for and what was it like?
Domenica: My first job after university was an apprenticeship I did for 12 months. It wasn’t paid at the Living Wage but they did pay the national minimum wage. It was fine for me at the time as I was 22, it was my first full time job, and I was still at home. I wouldn’t do the same salary now.
Amber: I’ve done a lot of hospitality jobs that were minimum wage, it was fine but it wasn’t sustainable. I’ve done a lot of voluntary work. I worked in a refugee camp which I would have loved to do for six months, but I could only do it for a week because I couldn’t support myself financially.
Nelle: How do you think the new Living Wage will affect young people and their employment?
Domenica: I think it’s good practice for employers to introduce the Living Wage: it makes your organisation look like you actually care about your employees. It’s a lot more appealing to young people. I feel with young people it’s very easy for us to get exploited because they know that competition for jobs is rough. I think if a company has this structure in place where they are offering the Living Wage it is obviously is going to benefit that young person, it’s all about trust.
Amber: It means that young people can take a step back and know that they can work in an industry they are passionate about, and not need to do something purely just to be financially stable.
Nelle: Do you have any final thoughts or encouragement for employers to introduce the Living Wage?
Amber: If you invest in your workers you will get a really good return. Happy workers mean a more efficient business or charity.
Domenica: Invest in your young people because we are the future. Invest in us now so we are able to grow into the next leaders. It’s the right thing to do. In order for young people to have these opportunities you need to keep it as open as possible, which means offering a Living Wage. Because as soon as it's unpaid or low pay you automatically cut off an entire group of people who have so much potential. It’s important to invest in the youth!