Vicky Spratt 28 London
Categories: Activist, Broadcasting, Editor, Journalist, Writer

Posted: 15th February 2017

There are journalists. Then there are you know, journalists, and then there’s Vicky Spratt. If you’re feeling a bit unproductive today we recommend you stop reading now.

Vicky is one of the most determined and focused young writers and broadcasters working in the UK today, and her tireless commitment to campaigning against legislation that makes being a twenty-something now even harder than it already is, is truly unique. From tampon tax to rent hikes and the contraceptive pill, Vicky doesn’t just write about the scourge of the current governmental crisis we find ourselves enclaved in, she does something about it.

Vicky has made it her mission, as Deputy Editor of The Debrief to fight hard and publicly for issues she cares about. From her petition to Make Renting Fair that actually resulted in letting agent’s fees being banned, to her latest viral hashtag #madaboutthepill that’s inspiring global conversations about the pedestrian handing out of drugs to women regardless of the well documented side-effects of the contraceptive pill- like, umm- suicidal thoughts, low libido, anxiety and panic attacks. Despite spending a year interviewing experts and putting freedom of information requests into the NHS to get exclusive data and getting nothing- Victoria has persisted. Off her own back she ran an audit via The Debrief and over 1000 women got in touch, relieved to be able to talk about the terrible impact the pill is having on their life. Her research has ignited the discussion and we can’t wait to see what she achieves with the work.

Did we mention that Vicky is only 28 and has appeared on Women’s Hour, contributes regularly to VICE and the BBC, hosts an incredible NTS how called Dirty Talk and has some potential TV documentaries in the pipeline? Fingers, bloody, crossed. For us Vicky embodies the Babyface spirit. She constantly exits in spaces she’s told she shouldn’t (Tory party conferences or Yarl’s Wood) she’s steadfast, vocal and she’s inciting real change to better lives. While she’s not busy mending the world, you can find her curled up in Clapton, maybe listening to Sweet Female Attitude’s Flowers. Welcome wonderful Vicky.

Tell us a bit more about your recent campaigns to do with fairer rent and the contraceptive pill, how did they come about?I’m a journalist and deputy editor at The Debrief. Among other things, I worked on a big campaign to get letting agency fees banned for renters. Our generation is really struggling to get on the housing ladder because the market is a total mess. Letting agencies and landlords are taking advantage of that every day. It was such an obvious injustice. I was researching it for a feature and I found that fees had been banned in Scotland since 2012 so I decided to put a campaign together, mobilising The Debrief’s readership and working with politicians across different parties to do something about it. I think a big part of it, for me, was showing that ‘millennial media’ could do more than just clickbait as well. Before I worked at The Debrief I was a broadcast journalist and producer at the BBC. At the time I didn’t really feel like the issues that affect our generation were being properly addressed by mainstream media. One of the first articles I ever wrote was about the impact hormonal contraceptives have on women’s mental health. It was in 2011 or 2012 for The Telegraph’s women section. Back then there was very little research out there on the issue. I had always wanted to do a thorough journalistic investigation on the subject, I spent nearly a year interviewing experts and putting freedom of information requests into the NHS to get exclusive data. I found out that loads of people were logging concerns about the mental health side effects of synthetic hormones in contraception (from the injection to the coil and the pill). Along with that data I ran a survey on The Debrief and it received over 1,000 responses in less than a month, half of those women said they believed their hormonal contraception had had a serious effect on their mental health. Every expert I spoke to said ‘this is a known problem’ but nothing concrete was available and nobody was doing anything about it. We ran all of this information as a long form investigation on The Debrief and launched it on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. I’m not done yet and plan to submit women’s stories to the NHS and call for them to change the way hormonal contraception is prescribed. So many women feel they have been affected by this and dismissed by their doctor. I’m just putting it out there but…if we’d had gender diversity on newspaper and TV news editorial teams would this have been properly looked into sooner? If men took the pill would side effects like depression be tolerated?What are the most challenging and rewarding things about your role at the Debrief?The most challenging is definitely keeping up with my email inbox. The most rewarding is working with writers and seeing how people react to things like the Make Renting Fair campaign or contraception investigation. Also - when I graduated in 2010 I ended up, as so many people do, in a desk job that I didn’t love doing other people’s bidding. I knew, then, that I couldn’t live like that. I hated the thought of spending the rest of my life living for the weekend. My job is rewarding because I would actively choose to do it and, occasionally, I get to make a real difference.A day in the life of you…I feel really privileged to be able to say that no two days are the same. I made it my mission to do a job where every day was different, where I got to go to new places and speak to people from all walks of life. Sure, some days are fairly standard, sitting at my desk going through a zillion emails and editing copy but I also get to travel around the country interviewing people. My job takes me from the heart wrenching (sitting in the visitor’s centre at Yarl’s Wood waiting to do interviews), to the stomach churning (speaking on a panel at Tory party conference with the minister for housing in front of a room of old men) and then the fun but fairly ridiculous (like a dinner to celebrate the launch of a new sex toy). One constant, though, is that most days end in the bath. What's the first thing you do when you get up? Panic that I’ve overslept. Then, despite that, have a long sit down shower and turn the bathroom into a steam room for a good thirty minutes.When are you happiest?Probably when in the bath.Who do you admire?Everyone has idols (Joan Didion, Gloria Steinem, my mum, my nan) but in the last few years of journalism I’ve met so many people I admire. I admire people who write about difficult and personal things to shed a light on them, I admire the women who are behind Sisters Uncut, I admire all of my friends for doing things their own way, and so many people I’ve been lucky enough to interview who are just trying to make it work whatever their situation and I admire women who go into politics (which I never could) because they have a thankless job and they have to put up with loads of sad trolls threatening and harassing them on the Internet. What's your current obsession?Tiny baby animals (google baby stingray), social justice and world peace obvi.What’s your best advice?Someone once said this to me ‘success without struggle’. At the time I didn’t really know what they meant, but now I think I do. I think our generation, in particular, feels like we have to battle against the odds to get to where we want to be. Sadly, to some extent, that’s true. But, I think there’s also something to be said for tuning out the noise and looking at what comes naturally to you, what feels good and right. You can’t battle your way through every single day and if you love what you do, if it makes you feel good, then even when it’s hard (which it will inevitably be) you’ll be alright. Also…look up. Put your phone down. Book club recommendation?Anything by Olivia Laing or Rebecca Solnit, boy can they write.Song to be playing as you enter the club?I went out with a guy when I was a teenager and he once snapped a vinyl of Sweet Female Attitude’s Flowers in half because he was so sick of hearing it. He wanted to ‘make a statement’. Needless to say he’s no longer my boyfriend.What words or phrases do you most overuse?Fuck and sorry.What three things would be on your rider?Prosecco, palo santo wood, and Pellegrino What's your pet hate?Negativity and apathy. That’s two. What's next?Hopefully more of the same. There are some TV documentary ideas in development and something even more long form is in the pipeline but I don’t want to jinx it... AND FINALLY...WHO IS YOUR NEXT BABYFACE GIRL SUGGESTION?Who: Bridget Minamore
Why: She’s passionate and tireless. She also writes great poems.
Contact Vicky Spratt



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