Blog posts

A New Farm

So on Wednesday I submitted the memorandum of understanding for my first project.

I didn’t do a lot of work on this one, but I took it over because it was convenient and I’m waiting on a reply from our people in Ethiopia before I can go on with the stoves and wash-station one.

Basically, we wanted to build a farm at the Saria Kebele Primary School in Amhara, Ethiopia. This is all well and good – but how is it going to work? Our contact in Ethiopia had put together a budget and a proposal for us, and I had to go through it and put it into a Memorandum of Understanding (basically, the sort of contract that NGOs use).

A Good IDEA?

I’ve never had a proper job before, so two weeks working 9 to 5 at IDEA has been a bit of a reality check. Not because it hasn’t been fun, but it is a bit strange having to say to friends “I can’t come out today, I’m working”. However, even with the 7am wake up calls, I’m really enjoying my time at IDEA.

For those of you who don’t know, IDEA is a charity which works on a global scale to teach debating, a skill which is so, so, so beneficial. It can improve your confidence, your ability to read and write, and also, most importantly, can enable critical analysis of issues from more than one point of view.

1st Week at DWT

Last week I started my internship at Durham Wildlife Trust (DWT). I’ve always had a love for nature but it is only recently that I have thought about working for a conservation charity. At the trust, I am working on a project concerning GIS maps of ecosystem services. GIS maps are a relatively recent development in ecology and aim to map ecosystem service demand and supply. This information can then be used to identify areas that provide valuable services and should therefore be conserved, but also “gaps” or areas where there is demand for a service but supply could be improved.

Mingling with Bristol’s greenies

I’ve recently been to the monthly Bristol Green Mingle with Charles and Fi. It was the first time I’d been to a mingle and I didn’t know quite what to expect – but unsurprisingly, it was just people (specifically Bristol’s greenies) drinking, eating and chatting. I met an interesting mix of people including local MPs, an ecologist and the director of the Bristol Green Capital initiative (who’s become a local hero after Bristol won the European Green Capital Award earlier this year). As well as being an enjoyable, relaxed and interesting evening it was also very useful – I gained a few handy contacts who seemed to know something (if not a lot) relevant to my internship project.

ACT! in Bristol

I’m now 2 weeks into my internship with The ACT! Alliance in Bristol. The ACT! Alliance is a newly set up campaigning organisation which differs from those that already exist in that it seeks to pool the efforts and resources of existing organisations to gain strength for change, rather than all working in an isolated and fragmented way. Importantly, ACT! does not compartmentalise the issues that we face, seeing that the deteriorating environment, the faltering economic system, failing politicians and poverty are all interlinked, and so are the solutions. Broadly, ACT! campaigns for sustainable development in environmental, economic and social systems.

Coming up to the end of the first week!

So I’m coming up to the end of my first week. It’s actually been really good!

Yesterday I went to one of the trustees’ meetings and had a quick chat about some of my ideas (they’ve been in the pipeline for about a year, so a lot longer than the placement). They seemed really enthusiastic about them, and how the charity is going to be moving forward. I would really recommend working with a smaller charity – there are only 8 trustees of LUCIA so I actually feel like they value my input and will consider my suggestions seriously.

Other than that, I’ve done some initial research into the stoves project and how to apply for funding.

Ben Fernando – first day at work!

So I’m just on lunch break for my first day at work! I’m at LUCIA (Life Uplifted by Change in Africa), a small Birmingham based charity that works with women and children in Ethiopia. I’ve been working with them for a while  now doing fundraising, and I decided to do Charity Insights so that I could get more involved with the research and problem-solving skills that they do.  You can find out more at

So far I’ve had the usual introduction and health and safety talk, and discussed my project with my supervisor. Initially, I’m going to be looking at how to get funding for the grassroots projects that they’re looking at in Rural Ethiopia.

Internships are well underway!

The first of the Charity Insights participants started their internships last week & Eileen and I are delighted to see the blog posts starting to come in. We are really looking forward to hearing more about everyone’s internships.

We have another participant to announce – Will Prince, third year Physics who will be doing his internship at The Big Issue Foundation.

Just before the end of term we ran a preparation workshop for our participants. This was a great chance for all the interns to meet each other and to hear about the projects that they will be embarking on!

Charity Insights Bursary award winners announced!

After some thorough interviews with our shortlisted applicants the Charity Insights participants for 2013 so far have been confirmed as:

  • Alex Berditchevskaia, PhD Bioengineering, internship at Royal Society Publishing
  • Amira Hassan, second year Biology, internship at KEEN London
  • Ben Fernando, first year Physics, internship at LUCIA
  • Eleanor Angwin, second year Biochemistry, internship at Idea
  • Emily Lehtonen, second year Zoology, internship at The RSPB
  • Frances McFadden, second year Biology, internship at Durham Wildlife Trust
  • Helena Wright, PhD Centre for Environmental Policy, internship at the British Red Cross
  • Lydia Sheldrake, second year Biology, internship at the ACT Alliance
  • Nick Birtle, second year Geophysics, internship at Blue Ventures

Well done to everyone!

Applications are in!

Eileen and I have enjoyed reading all the applications for the charity insights scheme. There are some really fantastic organisations our students hope to work with from the Durham Wildlife Trust to the Big Issue.  We are looking forward to meeting the shortlisted applicants at interview over the next few weeks!

At interview the applicants will be required to do a 10 minute informal presentation about their chosen charity and project as well as answering some interview questions.

Good luck to all!