It’s hard to pinpoint precisely where my social action journey began. Perhaps my parents would claim it was as a small child, when I was taught to diligently recycle (and woe betide me if I forgot to do so!). My best guess, though, would be when I was 17. My concern for the environmental, political and developmental injustices occurring globally and locally had led me to study A-level Geography, as I wished to learn how to tackle some of society’s challenges. So, when my sister who was studying at Oxford invited me to attend a conference on International Development with her, I jumped at the chance.
That conference turned out to be OxFID, an Oxford Hub event aiming to educate and motivate the next generation of leaders to tackle these issues. I was inspired (and I confess, somewhat awestruck) by the work of some of the individuals and the organisations I came across. The event’s programme featured a small blurb about the Hub and its amazing range of opportunities for students: summer internships with charities, local volunteering and educational talks. As I was applying to University at that time, I was thrilled to learn that two of the Universities I’d applied to also had Hubs of their own. By no great coincidence, I ended up at one of those Universities: Bristol.
At the end of my first year, I acted on the inspiration OxFID had given me and undertook a summer internship with an entrepreneurial international development organisation, Moringa. I had my first taste of charity work, fundraising through grant writing. This experience would later prove invaluable when it came to applying for grants to set up my own project. Then came my second year where, as part of Bristol Hub, I coordinated Bristol’s International Development Conference. I aimed to encourage others to contribute to development work, much as OxFID had inspired me to do so.
During my third year, further encouraged by a class run by an international development practitioner, I decided to apply for Student Hub’s Social Impact Internship Scheme. I was lucky enough to spend my summer interning with the amazing Child.org, an International Development organisation focusing on children’s development. I produced a marketing database for their new programme, Charity Apprentice.
The marketing work I did that summer, combined with previous experience of grant writing, soon proved to be incredibly useful. Upon starting my final year, a drawn out search for an affordable second hand bike quickly escalated and, along with a few other students, I ended up co-founding The Bristol Bicycle Company (now Balloon Bikes), an affordable bike rental scheme for Bristol students. Our aim was to encourage more students to travel sustainably, whilst also reducing the problem of abandoned bikes around the campus at the end of the year.
Founding this project reaffirmed my belief that upon graduating, I wanted a job that would be as challenging, rewarding and meaningful as my experiences so far had been. I therefore applied for the Worthwhile UK Graduate Scheme, which is how I came to be the Oxford Hub Programmes Officer. I now spend my days supporting students to run educational events (including OxFID) and using my experience to guide those wishing to start their own social enterprises or new volunteering projects.
I’ve really enjoyed my social action journey so far and I’m excited to see where it will take me next. So the question now is, where will yours take you?