Emma Harrison, head of campaigns, RNID

Emma Harrison worked in the European Parliament before becoming head of campaigns at the RNID, the charity for deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the UK

Emma Harrison
Emma Harrison
What does your job involve?

I lead a team of nine campaigners and a volunteer coordinator, driving forward the RNID's public agenda. We're responsible for public affairs; lobbying government is a very important part of that.

How did you move into this role?

I worked in the European Parliament and for the consumer advice organisation Which? before I took this job. My cousin is profoundly deaf, so the job resonated with me personally.

What's the best piece of training you've ever received?

On-the-job training. I was lucky to work with one of the best campaigners we've had in the UK in years - Sheila McKechnie, director of the Consumers' Association until her death in 2004. I went to some meetings with her and learnt how to relate to other people, how to be firm and strong, and how you can balance that with kindness.

What's been your greatest career achievement to date?

Being invited to go on the Lord Chancellor's legal services reform consumer panel when I was at Which? At the time, legal services weren't on the Which? agenda, but I lobbied internally on the basis that legal services are crucial to everyone when they're buying a home, getting a divorce or whatever.

I worked very hard and spent a long time talking to solicitors and fighting the consumer angle. Eventually I got invited to go on the panel. I think it showed me that an individual really can make a difference.

What's the best career-related advice you've ever received?

Sheila McKechnie told me that you should always campaign to close your own organisation. It may sound strange, but she reckoned that in a perfect world, no one would ever need Which? magazine because people wouldn't get ripped off.

I've brought the same thinking to the RNID. The team know that we've got to campaign for a world where deaf people aren't discriminated against.

As soon as we stop getting letters from people telling us about how they've been turned down for a job because of their deafness or how they haven't been given support to go to a doctor's appointment, then we've done our job and we can move on to something new.

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