On this page, you can read students' reflections on the the Public and Community Engagement internships they did in summer 2023. This programme is funded by the Warwick Institute of Engagement but it would not happen without the work of the internship providers; we are hugely grateful to all of the organisations who hosted the interns in 2023, for their efforts to design valuable work experience for our students.
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"I could not have predicted the extent to which I would be impacted by my time with the Connecting for Good team and Coventry residents."
"I realise that my role as an intern has transformed into something more profound."
"People who were once strangers who would walk past me on the street were now coming up to me just to say hello or wish me luck"
"Looking back at everything I’ve done in the last six weeks has made me realise how much I’ve accomplished and affirmed the idea that when the arts meet, extraordinary happens."
“There have been lots of tangible outcomes that can be seen from [the student’s] internship! But also as a team it was great to have a fresh voice asking questions, and get a student perspective on what we were planning for autumn.”
Our intern's growth was amazing to see
“Having an intern increased our capacity on projects and strengthened our work. It was great to up skill and teach someone about community organising and the work that we do (as it is quite niche). We were out in the community everyday, and having an intern alongside us brought a fresh perspective to the work - sometimes in line with their degree. Our intern's growth was amazing to see, and we were really sad to see them leave. They really felt like part of the team, and we are hoping to grab lunch with them in the future as a team!”
Community Organising: Digital Campaign Building at Grapevine
Bel Govier, studying Economics and Global Sustainable Development at Warwick, did the internship Community Organising: Digital Campaign Building at Grapevine. GrapevineLink opens in a new window is a charity strengthening people, sparking action and shifting power across services in Coventry and Warwickshire.
My six-week internship at Grapevine
and seeing my degree in a new light.
Written by Bel Govier
This June, I went straight from studying for my Economics and Global Sustainable Development exams at Warwick to jumping into Grapevine’s community organising project, Connecting for Good. I had never even heard about community organising before applying for this internship, and I could not have predicted the extent to which I would be impacted by my time with the Connecting for Good team and Coventry residents.
The internship had 2 components; half the time I was working with social media, and the other half I was shadowing the Connecting for Good team and learning about community organising.
The bulk of the social media work I did was for the Cov Cares project, a movement looking to generate more connection and belonging in and between businesses in Coventry, which began after the community was consulted on where they felt the most embraced in the city. I worked on posts for the Instagram account, highlighting each business and organisation that was nominated, sharing the best stories.
Throughout the other half of my time, I was following organisers Gemma, Leonie and Siân around with the objective of learning more about community organising. The six weeks have gone by, and I now understand it as a process seeking to empower the community through strategically connecting people with similar passions and coaching them to establish structural change. This means that the people with lived injustice experiences take charge and demand the changes they find most relevant. Throughout my Global Sustainable Development degree, I have been taught about the importance of grassroots to developing solutions that properly fit the environment and community. Despite this, I had not learnt about how grassroots are formed or function in practice, and working at Connecting for Good has exposed me to a completely new methodology:
The community organising process: (1) listening to the concerns and passions in the community, (2) connecting people with similar ideas and (3) building a core team of people who will strategize and act towards their goals, thus (4) creating sustainable structural change.
Destination Ball Hill
There is so much unexpected detail and reflection supporting community organising; I was particularly impacted by the way action planning takes each stakeholder into account through power mapping. Leonie and I power mapped the stakeholders relevant to pavement accessibility with Tina, who is improving conditions in her neighbourhood as part of the Destination Ball Hill action group. She highlighted that the friendship group, which consists of about 10 elderly people who meet at the Stoke Library every Monday, is powerful because they have lived experience of the struggles that arise due to inaccessible pavements in Ball Hill and thus would be able to get the city council’s attention. I had never imagined such a small group of people could have influence over decision makers, and yet all the community groups I have been in contact with have empowered themselves through pooling their collective passion and effort. My underestimation of the amount of strategy that goes into community initiatives and the power they hold was completely overturned by these groups and the Connecting for Good organisers.
The image shows Tina speaking at the Ball Hill team meeting in July 2023.
"Follow the energy"
My team members always say they “follow the energy,” they look for people who want change and channel that into action. Coming from an academic environment, which is sometimes over-analytical and makes all solutions seem insufficient, being in contact with people who want change and are actively working towards it has given me a newfound sense of optimism. I shadowed a one-to-one with Ade, who is growing into a leader of the Cov Cares movement, and he outlined how profit and people are inseparable components of business. When I mentioned that I study economics, he said “economics is amazing” and went on to passionately speak about how important it is to him that local businesses care for the community, which has made me look at my degree in a new and more interconnected way. It is not only Ade who is energetic and seeking change; there are so many organisers, change makers and volunteers in Coventry who are genuinely passionate about organising and believe in its power.
When I shadowed Gemma and Siân in their work organising Outspoke, a group of queer people who want to have more LGBTQ+ friendly spaces in Coventry, I was amazed by the way one-to-one conversations were conducted. They were very intentional, looking to understand what that person could and wanted to add to the group, as well as empower them to take ownership of the project. Shadowing these conversations has taught me that people can be strategic without being manipulative. When I was shadowing Siân, for example, she made the organising framework very clear to everyone we met, which gained their trust and helped them better understand what they are a part of.
The image shows an Outspoke picnic in June 2023.
The Connecting for Good team
The role taken on by the organisers at Connecting for Good requires a degree of selflessness, because their jobs are to spotlight the community and, in an ideal scenario, to fade away once it is self-sustainable. This quality is reflected in this team of incredibly kind-hearted, caring and strong people. The Grapevine team members are also intentionally reflective about the work that they carry out, thinking about what joy they are taking from it and how meaningful it is to them. They are constantly trying to improve themselves, reflecting together about their practice and shadowing each other to trade skills. I now have a new understanding of effort, and what it means to roll up your sleeves while still making sure that you are maintaining yourself warm. I feel very privileged to have worked alongside such positive and sincere people who genuinely care about the community in Coventry.
Throughout my internship at Grapevine, I saw power and action from a completely different perspective, and it has made me feel optimistic about the future of sustainability. This experience has changed my understanding of what it means to have an impactful career and work in a team. I feel excited to share what I have learnt and explore community organising more throughout the third year of my degree.