Graduate Story:

Shaun Mitchell

Shaun is a health activist living in Glasgow; since Bootcamp they've become interested in training and have returned to facilitate on Bootcamp 9 and assist with Selection for Bootcamp 11.

I found out about Campaign Bootcamp from a friend who had seen an advert on Facebook and forwarded it to me. I received the link and noticed that applications were closing that morning so I applied straight away! At this time, I was doing organising and activism centered around raising awareness of invisible disabilities. I was a volunteer coordinator for a group of people with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS); this involved going out to hospitals in Glasgow raising awareness about the fact that there are no specialist services in Scotland for people with EDS. I wanted to attend Bootcamp due to the focus on creating a strategy. My aim was to create a campaign in order to get these specialist services in place in Scotland so the strategy element was particularly appealing because as I was new to campaigning, I need to know where to start!

I was really happy to get a place on Bootcamp, and not only did I learn about strategy but lots of other things too. I particularly remember the session on engaging with the media; something which is really important in the context of my campaign. Also, before coming on Bootcamp, I’d never even heard the term ‘coding’ but since then I’ve become really interested in online tools. I’ve gone on to take other courses in my spare time on coding and email campaigning. As someone with a disability, I find that traditional activism such as attending protests are sometimes not accessible to me so campaigning online has opened up a new sphere of activism.

Before Campaign Bootcamp there was no action group in place to work on my campaign, but we’ve put one in place now. This group is working with the national services division; with the aim of putting in place a patient pathway for people with EDS and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD) in Scotland. As May is EDS awareness month, I organised a public awareness event – the first of its kind in Scotland! This event took place in a park and its aims were two-fold: to get people to become aware of these issues but also to get people with disabilities out into green spaces. Thanks to coming on Bootcamp, I’ve been really interested in becoming a trainer and facilitator. I’ve been on the Training for Change course, which was made possible through Campaign Bootcamp, and I’ve started an active listening exercise with the aim of creating a collective of people in Scotland working on refugee and migrant rights issues, and those working on racial justice issues. Through the active listening campaign, the plan is to approach and meet with these people and groups. I want to identify concerns and priorities, and build a community of support. One of the aims will be to get good training programmes in Scotland; lots of training happens down south but I want to get training for campaigners and activists happening in Glasgow.

One of the best things to come out of Bootcamp was going on Training for Change. Coming back to Bootcamp to be a facilitator on a later camp was also a great experience; both things have taught me so much and I’ve gained a lot of confidence. I’ve also returned to Bootcamp to work as a Selection Assistant, helping the staff team choose the cohort for Bootcamp 11. The Bootcamp team is absolutely amazing; there’s so much support and understanding. What was really exciting for me during the selection process has been to see how committed Campaign Bootcamp is to getting people with disabilities on to camp, and while I was interviewing it was so great to hear from so many campaigners of different ages – from their teens into their seventies!

Shaun Mitchell

Hi my name is Shaun, I am so pleased to have been offered a place on Bootcamp 7. I currently volunteer for Ehlers-Danlos Support UK in Glasgow I have also worked in support services which provides a wide range of services for people who have learning disabilities. Looking forward to learn and gain valuable skills and knowledge that will give me the confidence in becoming an effective campaigner and advocate.