I would absolutely recommend the UWE internships, as a great way to gain experience which can really help you to find a job when you graduate
Lunda Dimbelolo BA (Hons) Drama and Acting, Internship role: Assistant Director Intern, employer: Bristol School of Acting
Describe how you felt on your first day in your internship
I felt quite nervous but quickly found my feet at the drama school. I was welcomed by the project leader Sam Bridges, who explained what we would be doing which helped to clarify the role. It did feel as though the advertised was different to the reality, in good and bad ways. I found myself met with challenges as the actors were aged 16-18 and some had behavioural problems, but once a rapport had been built this proved to be a positive challenge and taught me a lot about observing behaviour, which is great when directing.
What key skills have you learnt through your internship and how do they link to your course/ career goals?
Directing tools, exercises, people management. As well as a glossary of contacts that I can use, work has been offered.
Would you recommend other UWE Bristol students take up an internship and why?
I would absolutely recommend the UWE internships, as it’s a great way to spend the summer, gaining experience and money. It also really helps for final year having worked in the role you aim to graduate in.
Law and Criminology student has used her volunteering experiences to help direct her career pathway
I work part time and study Law with Criminology at UWE, but I make the time to commit 1 day a week to supporting and helping victims of sexual abuse. For 2.5 hours once a week, I volunteer on a helpline.
Survivors of sexual abuse, recent or historic, call the helpline and talk to me for up to 40 minutes. The reasons for the call hugely vary. The majority of the calls I handle are offering survivors who are currently struggling some emotional support, such as talking about what has happened to them. Many of them have never spoke about it to anyone before. I talk about their feelings, and together we find ways they can cope.
I help survivors who are confused about what’s happened to them, advising survivors of recent sexual abuse on what to do, referring people and taking their details for counselling and safeguarding survivors who may be in danger, both from themselves and people they may be around.
There are 2 types of outgoing calls. Some are just returning missed calls from when the helpline was closed. Others are scheduled every 3 weeks for those who need that extra emotional support.
Volunteering for SARSAS (Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support) means they have 1 extra person who can take calls, meaning together we can support those extra few people. The impact on the community is huge. Survivors feel that they can talk about what happened with someone and they can get advice. They also feel believed and not alone. Several calls have even ended with the survivor feeling empowered and wanting to make their own difference.
This is totally new for me. I never thought I’d be able to listen to some of the things that are spoke about on the helpline, let alone support and offer advice to it. I’ve gained so much confidence since starting the helpline. I feel that if I can talk to the brave people I talk to and they feel they can talk to me about what has happened to them, then I can tackle pretty much anything.
It’s boosted my listening/communication skills more than any other experience ever could. I’ve learnt lots since volunteering, including how to support survivors, how to safeguard and what to do if they have been recently sexually abused eg. where to go for evidence, how police reporting works. But I’ve also learnt other things I never thought I would: its gave me the ability to look out for the little things and have a great eye for detail, amazing confidence and communication skills. Since volunteering, I’ve began leaning towards the career path of victim support. It’s nothing I’d ever thought I’d be able to do before – I didn’t have the confidence in myself and think I’d be able to do it, but I can.
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science student, Maisie Deaton helped to create a community greenspace previously scheduled for a housing development
Transition Town Wellington is part of the transition network, an international environmental movement of local people volunteering to improve sustainability, wildlife, climate change and waste in their town.
I volunteered with them with the aim to help with community gardening and attend meetings but I soon became directly involved in a new project – creation of a forest garden and community greenspace, previously meant for housing development.
I became one of the leaders for science communication by analysing public data and survey responses. This meta analysis from over 250 public inputs aided the project leads to understand the thoughts and opinions of the town. I then produced graphics to present to the public during consultations. Furthermore, I kickstarted their Instagram account, developing their social media platforms to engage more of the community – especially the younger generation.
I believe my presence was useful to their team due to my age difference, (majority were of the older generation). My input provided encouragement that their service was impacting more of the community from all backgrounds, as well as inspiring other young people to take part. Development of an Instagram account also meant their aims could be presented through a more digital, photographic way.
My placement was cancelled due to COVID-19 and I had to live at home for a year before returning to my final year of study. Additionally, I had recently moved to Wellington and started working with this organisation only two months after moving to a completely new place (originally lived in Shropshire). I wanted to gain experience and get to know people in this new area.
Since volunteering with this organisation, I have become a lot more interested in the importance of science communication and working with local people. Aside from their main project, many small community gardening sessions took place where I gained many skills in gardening and land management – learning about plant species and soil which directly relates to my course at UWE: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science.
I made mini wildlife films to grow their YouTube channel. One of the Transition Town elements is to allow local people to develop skills and engage with the community. I edited my first wildlife film and gained experience in photography while sharing my work online for people to enjoy and learn from. I would definitely continue volunteering if/when I return to Wellington (Somerset). Alternatively, there are many other similar organisations and opportunities within the local community that I’m now more open to take part in.
Irrespective of my fears living in a new place I volunteered to not only enhance my passions surrounding sustainability and conservation, but to help the community and break generational boundaries by connecting with people of all backgrounds, no matter our age or skill level.
This volunteering has actually helped me gain another volunteering project I recently got confirmed in South Africa. I will be volunteering as an ecological research assistant to gain work experience and help this small conservation organisation there.
Jasmine Tidswell talks about her journey to studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science at UWE Bristol
This volunteering experience was life changing for me for a number of reasons.
I moved to Bristol from London in June 2020 just after the first national lockdown to enrol in the Environmental Science Access course at City of Bristol College. My plan was to go on to study Conservation and Ecology at UWE which I am now doing.
Moving to a new city amidst a global pandemic with social gathering very restricted left me feeling isolated and unsure how to find a sense of community in an unfamiliar place. Volunteering at the farm and being welcomed into their vast and diverse community helped me find a sense of belonging.
During my volunteering period, I had a mentor, a member of staff who directed and assisted me in my tasks, he was also very focused on my personal wellbeing and helped to support me through a very difficult time as I lost two friends to suicide in January 2021, without this space to talk freely, work with my hands and benefit from the peaceful nature at the site I would not have coped as well as I did.
I spent four hours every week helping with various jobs around the farm from labour intensive tasks, such as mucking out the animals, to organisational tasks, like ensuring that wheelchair users had good access around the site.
It was important to ensure the farm remained a clean and safe environment for visitors and neighbours. I organised the composting piles, ensuring the usable compost is accessible for use throughout the farm to fertilise the food growing beds. These are used by various volunteer groups including adults with learning and physical disabilities and children so the compost pile needs to be safe and accessible.
I also helped medicate a sick ram. It takes plenty of hands to keep a ram calm and still whilst medicating it, unfortunately, the ram passed away as the condition was too severe. In the Spring, four lambs were born who had been fathered by the ram, having the opportunity to connect naturally to the circle of life and death puts everything into perspective.
I would sew seeds, weed vegetable beds and clean seed trays for the plant nursery ‘Propagation Place’. This allowed the plant nursery managers to spend more time leading more enriching activities with other volunteer groups who are often referred to Propagation Place to improve their mental wellbeing. In the summer I helped to run a BBQ in the summer, using some of the harvested crops from Propagation Place to make a range of dishes to offer to the volunteers referred through the mental health charity MIND.
I found working with other volunteers and hearing about the challenges in their lives to be thought provoking and heart warming as the sense of support and community that was built by working together and listening to each other was uplifting. I learnt a multitude of new skills and knowledge about animal care, seed sewing, crop harvesting.
Towards the end of my volunteer programme, I heard that Propagation Place were hiring plant nursery assistants though the Kickstarter Scheme, as I was eligible I applied, keen to remain at the farm and further my skills and connections there, I was successful and completed a 6 month contract for them from April to October 2021 where I learned a lot about propagating plants as well as sustainable horticultural practices & completed first aid training. I still work odd days at the farm, helping with the animals, site maintenance, and in the office providing support to the new kickstart workers.
I began as a volunteer, I progressed as a staff member, and I intend to use the skills and connection that I am gaining at university to become a lifelong advocate for the farm.