“One thing everyone knows about me is I absolutely love Fern. At our 20th anniversary party two people said: ‘Fern seems like an amazing place to work. Is it really as good as it seems?’ And for me it certainly is. 

Fern is very supportive of the ups and downs that all staff go through, and its flat structure has given me the freedom to try new things and change how Fern communicates. 
Communication is integral to everything Fern does. 

We're not able to be collaborative unless we can communicate well: unless we can explain complicated issues in ways that encourage people to understand, care, and get involved. So in the last few years we’ve focussed on producing material that explains issues linked to forests, climate change and human rights in a way that most people could understand.

The beauty of working for Fern is that no day is the same. 

I often come in to an extremely full [email] inbox. A typical day would involve Skyping or chatting with people about exciting new ideas that need to be turned into reality and proposing communications tools that might help – everything has to be tailored to its audience – and then, at the other end of the spectrum, I could be going through the final proof of a beautiful new report, checking the images and the captions, and making sure that it’s convincing. 

Even when I’m travelling, which is a lot, there’s a wide variety of activities: from working with filmmakers to produce videos, overseeing the building of our new website, or training up an intern.

The unexpected can rear its head at any time: when my colleague was in Russia last year investigating coal mining’s terrible impact on forests and local people, I got spammed by 5,000 emails in a day. We sourced the attack to Russia; hacking is something we’re facing a lot more of. 

Eleven years ago [when I joined Fern] we had no Twitter, no Facebook, no social media at all. We had a relatively simple website and sent out our newsletter by post. We would print virtually everything. 

Now we communicate in a very different way: much more film, more storytelling, more blogs, social media, humanising the issues, and putting the campaigners at the front of the work we do. Everybody is expected to be a communicator now.

Fern is about opening the space for others to have their voices heard. 

I think our publications really show what we mean by this. For instance last year, instead of sending people out to gather stories, we used local journalists to do it - to raise the voices of our partners and tell the stories and communicate about the amazing work they do, and why forest ownership and management is so important to the lives of ordinary people.

2018 has been a great year for the communications team because we've had PJ [Pierre-Jean Brasier] join us as Fern’s Strategic Communications Adviser. This has allowed us to increase the languages we work in, improve dissemination, and try new communications tools such as petitions.

Our role is to support the vital and inspiring work of our campaigners, by asking the simple questions that most people would have about their work. Experts often can’t communicate to non-experts, so my role is to never quite understand: the moment I become an expert I’ve failed!

I couldn’t do this job if I wasn’t so involved in the campaigns. 

These are issues I really care about: trying to help people understand how forest peoples’ rights lead to strong diverse forests. And how strong diverse forests clean our air, stop climate change and house animals.

I feel like I’m working for an organisation that is enormously beneficial for the environment and for people. And that ending the things we campaign against - such as the over-consumption of meat and soya and palm oil – has no downside. It will help our economies, our health, animals AND the environment. It really is a wonderful place to work.

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