Grace Etheredge talks about volunteering in data science to support her law degree
Leckhampton Rovers Football Club is a grassroots football club for children aged 5 – 18 and adults. The Club has over 30 teams, each with over 11 members. During the pandemic I took on the responsibility of ensuring data collection adhered to new Covid-19 rules.
I set up a system to manage the submission of each team’s attendance and sanitation data, in line with Government and NHS Guidance. This information was gathered so that, in the event of a Covid case being reported, teams would be able to identify possible contacts and seek medical advice.
I kept up to date with the changes in Government guidance on Covid and managed the designated email address for such submissions, logging the information on a spreadsheet, in accordance with GDPR.
In the event of a Covid case being reported, I would correspond with coaches and parents to inform them of the Government guidance, explore possible responses, and point them in the direction of medical help or equipment.
My volunteering directly assisted the organisation as it meant that the Club’s trustees and coaches could resume their roles, safe in the knowledge that I was monitoring their compliance with FA and Government guidelines.
This had a crucial impact on the Club as it meant that the coaches had a clear and centralised contact for any Covid-related issue, they could concentrate on playing football, and the hundreds of children could return to their training sessions and matches. This was especially important when restrictions meant that organised sport was the only sport some children could engage in.
The skills I have developed assist me in my work as a law student. This is because of the continued importance of self-discipline and attention to detail.I improved my time management skills as I balanced these responsibilities alongside my university work and other extra-curricular commitments. I developed the confidence to email coaches and inform them that they needed to get better at complying with the Club’s procedures. The experience has been particularly useful in my developing career as a barrister when communication, time management and self-motivation are key.
When I received a call from a coach regarding a Covid-contact, I learnt to remain calm under pressure, ask questions to ascertain the key information, and draw upon the most relevant Government guidance. I became adept at typing this up in a succinct way and highlighting the crucial sources.
Grassroots football is very important to my family and community, and it was very rewarding to be able to support its revival throughout the pandemic.
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.
Veronika Dutfield-Valeckova, Biomedical Science Student, wanted to thank the NHS through volunteering and has surpassed her won expectations
I felt that as a mother of 2 children with extensive needs, this was my opportunity to give back to our wonderful NHS. My two children have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). I’ve been so privileged to be able to access NHS support, it was important to me to be able to thank with my actions, rather than my words. So many people have become isolated or bereaved during the past 2 years, and often they’ve had no other human contact than with me and my colleagues from the Royal Voluntary Service. For some it has become a lifeline and a connection to the outside world, and I feel pride as well as feeling privileged to have been allowed to make someone else smile.
First Aid Response
I’ve logged over 1000 hours since March 2020. I am available to respond to an emergency by the service users, and oftentimes get to a patient before the emergency services. As I am CPR and defibrillator trained, as well as carrying Pulse Oxymeter, I can monitor patients vital signs and administer CPR, if the situation requires it. I feel that at times, the emergency response has been vital for both patients as well as the services, given how stretched the emergency services are. I was able to provide a little bit of comfort to patients waiting for medically trained staff, whilst ensuring patients were safe.
I’ve been driving vulnerable patients to and from medical appointments as well as collecting prescriptions, food shopping and dog walking for those who can’t leave the house. At my local health centre I’ve been helping with admin duties and making welfare checks by phone with vulnerable adults as well as patient monitoring during the vaccination programme delivery.
Volunteering has allowed me to form new friendships, be it with the service users or my colleagues. I’ve been able to establish a support network that stretches further than the realms of my immediate community, which I’ve felt has played an intrinsic part in the success of the service delivery and service users experience. It has brought the wider community closer and with some patients, it has restored their faith in humanity and kindness, when they’ve felt like there was none. I have been incredibly privileged to play a part of a wonderful team who give up their spare time to others, and this has been such a wonderful experience that has helped my mental health and confidence like nothing else could have done.
I’ve learnt how to calm a distressed patient. I’ve learnt to communicate at many different levels due to patients’ different requirements and capabilities. I was able to build a strong foundation for trusting my instincts and judgement when arriving at the scene of an emergency. I’ve learnt just how powerful the ability to listen is, and how much of a difference it makes to the person who’s being listened to.
I am still volunteering with the service, and on top of that, I have set up a community hub that feeds into a national volunteering group called The Golden Hearted UK. This hub provides crisis food parcels to people whilst they await approval for food bank access. This has proved to be an invaluable service to many. My close friend and I fundraise to provide the emergency food parcels. We are currently in the process of applying for a charity status, as we both feel, this would give us the opportunity to access more community grants, which would allow us to reach more people in desperate need.
Beth Richardson talks about how being a Mother Companion has supported her degree to become a Midwife
I volunteered to be alongside pregnant women from different backgrounds with challenging situations, to bring skills from midwifery training to the support role but also to learn from their experience and what is needed to be able to provide culturally safe and appropriate perinatal care.
I take the role of a Mother Companion which provides dedicated support and nurturing of a woman or birthing person from any stage in pregnancy, throughout labour and childbirth and for the first 8 weeks of parenthood to help them adapt to their new role.
How I support the charity
The women and families we support are of migrant, refugee or asylum seeker status who do not have birth support or community around them. As a mother companion I provide:
Emotional Support: Space to un-pack ideas, concerns and wishes. Listening, giving encouragement, reassurance, and being a consistent physical & nurturing presence.
Physical Support: Helping with comfort measures, breath work, massage, relaxation, and guidance with infant feeding & settling.
Information Support: Sharing information, explanations and non-medical advice, guidance on NHS care, and signposting to partner agencies.
Advocacy: Facilitating communication between the people we support and care providers so that they can make informed choices. Discussing rights & entitlements in pregnancy.
Where relevant, support for a Mother’s Partner: Offering encouragement, reassurance & guidance on how to support the mother, their infant and themselves.
How volunteering has helped my career
I have been working with small teams of doullas and midwives in a capacity that holds space as a professional friend which, being different from the more clinical and investigatory role of a midwife, provides greater insights into making connections with women and families from all different cultures and backgrounds. It is incredibly inspiring.
I am building knowledge of different cultural practices and ways of being, as well as this I am building different communication skills. There is often a language barrier so learning to trust in facial expressions and body movements and showing care and compassion in this way has been great and I feel I make a deep connection with those I work with.
I am continuing to volunteer with Project Mama ongoing, taking part in training days and will do my specialist placement with them too. I plan to take my midwifery work into a global setting in the future and hope to transfer my skills to working with pregnant women in crisis situations.
Victoria Alexander, Psychology student, talks about her change making journey
In my role at Caring in Bristol, I cooked and prepared meals to be sent out to homeless people around Bristol. We would generally spend the day preparing about 200/300 meals, made out of food that had been donated – it was great because it meant that we were also utilising food that would have otherwise been wasted. It was nice to know these meals were going out to people who really needed them, and the environment was being helped too!
I also volunteered in the evening to be a delivery driver. We would drive to various hostels and hotels, and temporary accommodation – where people had been rehomed due to the pandemic, around Bristol. Part of my duties was to sort through donations, including food and clothing and maintain hygiene standards by keeping the warehouse clean.
Caring in Bristol was absolutely great to volunteer for. There were trained chefs inhouse, but the volunteers were needed due to the quantity being made. it was a challenge but I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt some new cookery skills from the chefs that were running the kitchen. The aid of volunteers also meant that other people in the company could spend their time helping the service users, by ensuring they were able to access other support such as financial advice. This was crucial during the worst of the pandemic, as so many people were loosing their rental homes and Caring in Bristol offered amazing support and advice on what people were entitled to. Whenever I engaged with the service users, everyone seemed so grateful.
I had just moved to Bristol so it was nice to be part of something in my new community. I didn’t know many people and I felt completely isolated during this time. This was made harder with universities being online and the general lock downs that we kept moving in and out of. Even being part of the volunteer group and meeting people that way meant so much to me. Helping out at Caring in Bristol meant I met a few people that I am still good friends with now! Also, going out in the vans really helped me to get to know Bristol and find my way around a lot better
Caring in Bristol is a really excellent charity, and a really brilliant one to volunteer with too. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, and it was nice to be surrounded with people who wanted to see the same change as me and I learnt about many more organisations that do amazing things around the city.
I went on to volunteer with Fare Share – the team there are all welcoming and appreciative. I am passionate about food being accessible for all and this gave me a really good insight into how we can make this happen and has given me some ideas for my career. It’s so good to see different organisations and see how they are helping socially, but it’s also nice to be a part of something that on an environmental level, helps with food waste, too!
I was also working as a support worker and noted that much of the diet for service users was sugar and pre-made food that isn’t really that healthy – I’d love to combine the skills I have learnt from Caring in Bristol, my support work and Fare Share – where I am currently volunteering, to set something up once I have finished my degree in Psychology. I now want to develop my understanding of the links between nutrition and mental health as I feel that this issue is often ignored as well as the social problems surrounding this.
Déborah Cardoso Ribas, a Creative and Professional Writing student, shares her experience working in the UWE Careers and Enterprise department
I came to UWE Bristol to pursue my passion for writing after leaving a Chemical Engineering degree at Edinburgh University. Breaking the mould of studying a subject that would give me a profession, to studying a subject that I am passionate about and can make a career of, was a bold but scary choice. Not at all popular within my family. I thought that doing a placement would validate my decision and help me understand what to do after graduating.
With a vocational degree like mine, there is no set career path. I have an array of skills that enable me to work in more creative settings, such as publishing. And equally are an asset in corporate areas like marketing and social media.
Having engaged before with the Student Ventures (Enterprise) team to develop a business to support beginner fiction writers, I knew I could be an entrepreneur. Still, I lacked the confidence to do it full-time. Therefore, I also wanted to use my placement year to make an informed decision. So, when I saw on Instagram that the Student Ventures team was recruiting, I did not hesitate and applied!
Application and Duties
The whole process was very smooth. The first stage was to fill in an application, describing my skills based on the job requirements. I was not asked to provide a cover letter or a CV, to which I was grateful as I didn’t have relevant work experience at the time. As part of the interview, I presented the resolution to a social media question and did an in-tray exercise.
To prepare, I used the UWE Careers Toolkit and booked a one-to-one appointment with a Careers Coach who advised me to use the STAR technique – very useful to answer competency-based questions in a story format.
I was offered the job on the same day as the interview, and a month later, in September, I started my role. Initially, I worked from home due to COVID, completing most of the training and induction online.
When the academic year began, I started working on campus in a split role between Careers and Student Ventures. Overall, I had three main tasks besides managing and creating content for their social media channels:
Frenchay Careers front desk, eight hours per week. I dealt with queries from students and supported the coaches with their appointments. I gained valuable experience in customer service and CV building. And I became more confident showcasing my skills both in a written and oral format.
Bower Ashton Careers Team support, once a week. I promoted the services and supported finding job opportunities for ACE students. I learned about labour marketing information and strengthened my Microsoft Office IT skills.
Student Ventures. I supported the team to deliver workshops and events, manage the inbox, and developed a personal project of my choice – a Brand Bible. I used my copywriting and scriptwriting skills to develop the Brand Bible, a document entailing key information about the service and how to best represent it internally and externally. I also increased my knowledge of independent businesses, mentoring and coaching.
I was surprised how much freedom I was given in the Student Ventures team; I remember being asked what I wanted to do: talk to students, work in the background, create content, deliver workshops… And I kind of did it all. Once I had done my day-to-day tasks, I was free to experiment and explore new ways of engaging our community or pitch an idea to my colleagues. And even though I was “just” a placement student, I felt extremely valued and that what I was doing was important.
My line manager, Gabi Cox, encouraged me to pursue my personal interests, which led me to seek training in Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI). I became an EDI champion, engaging my team in conversations about the topic and actively promoting and communicating EDI initiatives.
I pushed myself out of my comfort zone by delivering a talk to the Team Entrepreneurship cohort about Storytelling in Business: how to translate stories into copy that connects with audiences. I am now in the process of submitting a proposal to deliver a package of talks in the next academic year about Creativity in Business.
When working within Careers & Enterprise, you quickly understand the importance of planning and setting up objectives to achieve your short and long-term career goals. This year gave me the reassurance that I made the right decision by coming to UWE to study Creative and Professional Writing. Today, I feel more confident in my skills and the professional I am becoming. And although I am not sure yet if I will be a full-time entrepreneur after third year, I know which steps to take to start earning an income from my writing.
If you are considering doing a placement, I say go for it! Grab every opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and explore the possibilities. Most importantly, ask for help, do not be ashamed if you encounter challenges. It can get tough at times. It’s not easy to balance work commitments and course-related activities. But once you overcome the obstacles and reflect on all your achievements, you will be very proud of yourself.
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.
Chloe Horton, UWE Bristol Mental Health Nursing Student
I feel very passionately about helping to protect the women One25 support.
One25 is a charity providing support for the most marginalised women in the Bristol community. Their service users are street sex working women. I have volunteered at the drop in where the women can access emotional support, a hot meal, condoms, underwear, a nurse, a GP and also caseworkers which have a range of specialisms including domestic abuse and drugs.
At the drop in I spend time in the kitchen serving the women and also talking with the women, seeing how they’re getting on and supporting them with practical tasks such as accessing their GP.
I more often volunteer on the outreach van which goes out in evenings to serve a particular area where sex workers work. Women can call the van, or we spot the women, providing them with a hot drink, food, warm clothing, condoms, harm reduction packs for drug users and emotional support. The women REALLY appreciate the van and the support they gain from it. Some women will just pop to the window and get their needs met and some women will come on to the van and sit, have a hot chocolate and a good old chat. The women are sometimes intoxicated and One25 work closely with local organisations to ensure the safety of the women.
As a student Mental Health Nurse volunteering has helped me develop my skills hugely. Just spending time with the women, that at times can be distressed, has benefited my practice. It has enabled me to gain more confidence and also to use the skills I am learning on my course with the women I am speaking to.
I have always been interested in working with vulnerable people and having now volunteered for One25 my desire to do this has increased.
I absolutely love volunteering and feel very proud for my albeit small part of One25.
Tomoko Nishida undertook an internship for Ying Adviser (Linkelite) as a Creative Marketing Intern.
The UWE International Talent Scheme has been a great opportunity for me. It was formative in kickstarting my career as a professional illustrator. My tasks were realistic and achievable, and I was able to make a real difference to the company. I learned how to conduct business in the UK, and developed marketable skills.
I was placed at Ying Adviser, a start-up consultancy. Ying Adviser provides information about China and its culture, to businesses wishing to expand their presence in China. Prior to my assignment, their online presence was under-developed.
My brief as a Creative Marketing Intern was to help develop an online brand to their specification. The brand would demonstrate their business’s understanding of China.
Following a successful video interview: the supervisor and I arranged to meet in a cafe to discuss the placement. She was one of the company’s two directors, and told me the story of their company. We were interested in each other’s culture, and so I was excited to draw Chinese illustrations for use on their website. My working hours were flexible: I would work 3 days per week, for 4 weeks.
I characterised the company’s directors as pandas. I worked on the general idea of pandas having fun, and provided a range of sketches. I had a lot of freedom to decide what to make and how to make it. The brief specified that I would work in red and greyscale watercolour, to evoke a traditional Chinese style.
The use of humour was the core theme of the illustration. For example: pandas being fried in woks, or riding paper planes or hugging one another. I had to develop techniques for Chinese watercolour in a short time. Adding elements of Chinese calligraphy helped me to give my illustrations an authentic feel. I tried to depict humour and a sense of momentum by using strong brush strokes. Combining these new techniques broadened my perspective of painting and brushwork.
This work experience gave me an opportunity to develop Photoshop skills, which directly improves employability. I have gained confidence in using Photoshop in a professional way.
Once a week, I would work with my supervisor at her house. The rest of the time, I worked from home. This developed my self-management – a skill essential for any illustrator. I would write a daily report on what work I’d produced, and what my plans were for the next shift. The directors emailed me regular and useful feedback.
I recognise that I would benefit from pursuing experience in a creative team, to complete my professional profile. It is important to learn from a teacher or fellow professional.
The creative techniques and organisational skills that I honed during this internship, are already proving useful for my 3rd year personal project, and I have confidence that they will help me toward my dream of illustrating children’s books professionally.
The International Talent Internship Scheme provides you with a paid short-term work opportunity over the summer. Internships are a great way to experience the professional workplace and develop your skills.
Ryan Cornwell, Biomedical Sciences at UWE Bristol, reflects on his internship for Learning Science Ltd as a Learning Resource Development Intern.
My work varied from Beta testing learning science resources, to reading and expanding my knowledge on scientific techniques and even creating my own learning science resource that will be seen in multiple universities across England.
This is one of the best things I could have done to support my degree. I was met with interesting and varied work daily with the added benefit that no two days were the same. Work was never overwhelming as I had a solid support network provided by my work colleagues. I can’t recommend Learning science enough and the same for the internship scheme.
“We have gained hugely from having a student on the team who can provide real insight into learning needs and challenges.” Ryan’s manager found his knowledge and support invaluable. Following his internship, Ryan has been asked to continue working for Learning Science on an adhoc basis.
Taking part in the UWE Bristol Undergraduate Scheme
The UWE Bristol Undergraduate Scheme 2020 has now launched and is a brilliant way to gain work experience for your CV and earn some money over the Summer. This year internship opportunities will be offered online. For more details visit the Internships website.