Over the course of my first week the plan for my project has changed slightly, I originally was going to make a website from scratch, design, text, and code. The only experience in coding that I have is from R, a language and data handling program that we use a lot in Biology for statistical computing and graphics. In the interest of continuity, my supervisor decided that it would be best to leave the designing and coding of the website to professionals who have had instruction and training in this field. When I was told, I was quite disappointed because I was very excited to learn a new skill and be responsible for something so big. Last week, my original pressure of building the website was already lifting, as I was getting the hang of the procedure from tons of information that is available on the internet, which is also all conveniently free.
Pro-cancer research fund (PCRF) is a registered UK charity that has three main prongs of activity: research, outreach, and patient care. The research side is an integral part of the charity, and is led by Imperial professor Mustafa Djamgoz. Dr. Djamgoz is developing a non-toxic way of treating many different types of cancers, including Prostate, Breast, Colon, and Pancreas. The internationally acclaimed and peer-reviewed research is integral to PCRF’s mission as it gives them the necessary authority, professionalism and trust-worthiness for a supportive drop-in advice centre. PCRF offers a direct link between cutting-edge research and the patients that the research is ultimately meant to help. PCRF engages in multiple outreach talks and programs each year, such as the annual Orchid walk, aimed at making new information more accessible to the people actually affected by cancer. The patient care is delivered through the Amber Care Centre, a free drop in centre located in north London that offers professional help to cancer patients, as well as a free home nurse care program.
On Monday September 7th, I arrived at the Thulasi Centre in Kingston-upon-Thames home to the Centre for Community Development charity. Though I have been here before, this place never fails to amaze me. It is a small building nestled behind a take-away on the main road, and completely inconspicuous apart from an entrance set into a small side lane.
Yet when you walk inside, this place transforms. The receptionists, while looking at me a little quizzically (they don’t often see students here apart from for designated events), were very friendly and welcoming. When I mentioned the project coordinator’s name, they immediately directed me to the room in which we were to have our first meeting.
According to the project timetable we set ourselves, the first two weeks were dedicated to research and planning. As I’ve only ever visited sensory gardens my knowledge on them was limited, so before drawing up the plan I wanted to see other supported living facility gardens to see how they utilise their space. There was an issue as there weren’t other homes like ours within reach. Instead I contacted several sources which normally provide sensory gardens with the necessary equipment to gain insight on what’s more popular.
I organised several meetings with different gardening agencies to gather their perspective and used that as the foundation to the planning.
My last week at WildHearts was very much a case of pulling together the work of the past month and making sure that I had left no loose ends.
I was successful in contacting the schools that were signed up for the conference and collecting in the attendee names of the schools that confirmed attendance. With the numbers confirmed, school delegates will make roughly a quarter of the event’s expected attendance of around 280. There were a number of schools that were unable to take up their places for various reasons – therefore it is very pleasing that we managed to maintain a healthy proportion of school delegates.
In my final week I had the chance to assist in Forest Schooling, a session run by the Community Interest Company Nature Links, which operates in Hounslow and Surrey. This is just one of the fantastic sessions offered by Bedfont Lakes for children and families. Forest Schooling is typically run for children up to the age of eight and is all about encouraging creative play in an outdoor environment in order to build confidence and self-esteem.
Following a brief Health and Safety message at the park entrance, the session commenced by searching for ‘Base Camp’. Base Camp turned out to be a sheltered 30/40m2 section of one of the woody areas in the park, with a small clearing in the centre that contained a seating area made from logs.
Just a quick summary; I am doing my CI project with Birmingham Friends of the Earth; and I am looking at the waste management strategy in Birmingham and how different/better this can be, so we can ask the city council to make a better deal when the current contract comes to the end. It seems quite logical to expect to benefit more from waste (‘waste isn’t rubbish’); and also get local companies to deal with it (so to keep the money in the region and more jobs, etc.)
I have had some joys focusing on investigation into two things. One is about what other similar (in size, demography, etc.) cities are doing that Birmingham is not and could learn from.
The Eurasian water shrew is an insectivorous rodent that grows to around only 15cm long! Despite its unimpressive size, it has venomous saliva which it uses to temporarily paralyse prey, such as river fly larvae, which it catches by acrobatically diving to river beds. Due to their small size, water shrews have a high metabolism and must consume about half of their own body weight in insects a day or risk starvation!
Part of my project with the Ecologist at Bedfont Lakes is to investigate whether these tiny mammals are present along the river banks of some of Hounslow Boroughs nature reserves.
M y work with the charity has sadly come to an end, and the final product is even better than we expected.
This week we’ve strung together all the lesson plans and ‘water drops’ to actually form a programme pack. This has meant creating the information sheets and pitch ready to send the packs over to the schools, including fundraising materials, thorough explanations of how the scheme will run and outlining the key values of the charity. It’s also meant I’ve made a verrrry long list of things to do for the staff taking over my role, who will be in charge of producing the actual teaching materials: worksheets, presentations and lesson teaching guides.
It’s the end of week 3 and wow this internship is flying by. Thankfully, all the work we’ve been doing is finally seeming to make some sense and the random lesson activities have now been fleshed out into fully comprehensive lesson plans.
The week has been spent detailing lesson objectives, fighting with table formatting in Wo rd (complete pet hate) and pinging ideas backwards and forwards to teachers to gain as much feedback as we can.
We’ve also spent time creating an enterprise project, designed for secondary school pupils where we will run a competition to engage students in an entrepreneurial challenge.