Iram and Nikki’s summer intern blog

Author's position
RVA Summer Interns
Article date
26 August 2016

We want to keep you up to speed with all the things we are doing on our summer intern placement here at RVA. We will be updating the blog each week, so you can so what we have been up to!

We are exploring ways in which more young people (16-24) would be more likely to volunteer. We would really appreciate your unique perspective on voluntary work, please complete the survey found HERE

Week 7

We made it to our last week! For us this week was all about tying up loose ends, we spent the majority of our time making sure that we left something substantial for the projects that would continue after we’d left. It’s a shame that we won’t get to see the results of some of these projects we played a part in, however it has been rewarding just to see how ideas have developed in our eight weeks here. To finish our last blog we wanted to look back at our highlights of our internship (which wasn’t difficult considering we’d spent the majority of this week reminiscing).

Nikki’s favourite moment: My favourite part of this internship was working with the group from NCS, although we didn’t get to spend too much time with the kids from NCS whenever we got to speak to them I was blown away by their ability to persevere (and make me laugh!) The work they did for RVA was so helpful for the organisation, but especially for Iram and I. If you’d like to see their social experiment it’s available here:

Iram’s favourite moment: My highlight over the eight weeks was attending the activity open day at Dee Park Fire Station. I always love to see communities come together, as often people get very wrapped up in their own lives, and don’t stop to just enjoy their neighbourhood! This event was especially interesting as we had the chance to see firemen in action, and there was ice cream involved!

We are very lucky to have had this opportunity, and we appreciate the support that everyone at RVA has given us throughout our time here! We’d like to thank Steve and Rachel in particular for helping us develop our skills, and even dealing with our terrible jokes.


Week 6

This week kicked off with a meeting with RCLC, who we also met in our first week. They are working with women who have migrated here, and often feel isolated from the rest of society. The centre helps these women gain confidence, as well as professional qualifications. We are helping RCLC with their needs assessment by gathering some information about what they can do to improve their services. We spent the afternoon contacting several organisations that could connect us with people that are likely to use the services provided by RCLC. Both of us were very happy to help RCLC as we think it is an amazing organisation that deserves more recognition and support, if you would like to find out more, here is their website:

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to feedback to the university about our experiences during this internship, it’s fair to say both of us were not prepared to be on video that day! However, it was fun to be able to go over all our experiences over the past couple of months, and reminisce on how much we have been able to develop as workers.

We have also been in contact with our NCS group who dressed up as ‘modern day’ Disney characters on Tuesday, which really entertained us when they surprised us with a visit to the office! (see Iram’s excitement below) Wednesday was a big day for our NCS group as it was their campaign day. They did an amazing job and managed to get us 50 questionnaires for our research! This made us very proud, and also meant we could now look forward to what they’d do for their social action project.


Overall, this week has been very fun as we’ve been planning our last weeks at RVA. We decided it was best to work on a couple of projects for our last week, so we could help several organisations as much as possible. Of course it’s bittersweet going into our last week, but we’re still just as motivated to make a difference.


Week 5

This week our main focus was to prepare for our NCS project. We spent the start of the week making a presentation to present to our group, Sabesan, which is formed of 12 lively 15-17 year olds who are going to help us with our main target of advertising volunteering opportunities for young people in Reading. To break the ice we played a memory game with our group, which somehow ended up with us having new nicknames (Iram igloo and Nikki noodles for those interested :D) We have been so impressed by their maturity and enthusiasm throughout the week. We even got the chance to see them pitch their ideas to professionals from the Berkshire area in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event. They represented RVA so well and received all the funding they needed for campaigning… which made us extremely proud! We are very optimistic for the work they are going to do for us! To show your support and keep up with what they’re up to, please like their Facebook page:

We also had been given the opportunity to represent RVA at a Prince’s Trust event this week. This event was held for young people who are looking into all different types of work, from volunteering, work experience and all types of careers!

As we have been working on the Amersham Road project throughout our internship, we met with Nathan, from National Grid, to learn more about his project to raise the aspirations of young people in the area. His project works over three months to help young people and their parents learn more about potential career paths. To help him we will be giving advice about how to advertise the events.

Towards the end of the week, we organised a meeting with Trish Moreton at Earley CresCent Resource Centre which is also a voluntary organisation based in Lower Earley. We got to see around the centre and all the opportunities and events that are available!

If you happen to be in the area, it would be worth your while taking a look inside and talking to the kind staff about what’s on or even just popping in for tea in their welcoming cafe!



Week 4 

This week we met with NCS (National Citizen Service) to link with a small group of 15 to 17 year olds, to give them a project to instigate social action. This will give us the chance to coordinate a group of volunteers, but at the same time we will give them the freedom to exercise their creativity. This is an exciting opportunity to help a group of young people make a change in their local area.

Alongside this, we carried on supporting the carnival of the world project. We visited community centres around Reading to advertise volunteer projects on the day of the carnival as well as advertising the carnival itself… during this we realised that Reading is actually a very big place!!

We also went to a costume making workshop to see how things were going in preparation of the event which made us very excited to see the upcoming show!

At the end of the week, we got to go to Dee Road Fire Station to represent RVA during an open day. We got to see several different groups from the community, police, rescue teams, council and members of the public!
Adam, who was in for work experience with RVA, got to join us for the day! There were several acts and activities on … and I’d be lying if I said that we weren’t as excited (if not more) than all the kids were!

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Later on, we visited a refocus group where we carried out some more surveys about young people volunteering. Here Adam found his hidden talent for table tennis … but then again he was playing 12 year olds (Sorry Adam!).


On the weekend, we headed back to Amersham Road to help out with their community fun day!


Week 3

This week we’ve been working closely with two projects. One is with an organisation called Culturemix who are holding the Carnival of the World event in Reading and the other, is an ongoing project based at Amersham Road.

To begin with we done some background research on the area, and then met with Sarah who is involved in projects taking place. During the meeting, we discussed how we could be involved in the projects.

One of the tasks we took on was to be involved in the advertisement of the activities running in the community centre, such as a bike club, world cafe and self defence classes. To do this, we went to Caversham and put out flyers, during this we got the chance to talk to a few residents who were around.

We met with Mary, who is the person at the forefront of organizing the Carnival of the World. As a member of RASPO (Reading All Steel Percussion Orchestra) she has been organizing this event to show how diverse Reading can be. We attended a costume making workshop, and a steel pan workshop (it’s safe to say Iram won’t be becoming a steel pan artist any time soon!) Part of our role would be to recruit and coordinate volunteers, who will be vital to the lead up and running of the event. We also designed a leaflet to be given to potential volunteers, and businesses in Reading. Although, probably spent a little too much of our time looking for the right shade of mint to use! We are very excited to take part in something that is truly will show that despite our differences, we can all celebrate our uniqueness together!

COW2016.1 Steel Band










Week 2

Our first task of the week was to do some admin work (which was not as awful as people make it out to be). Later that day, we carried out our survey at Whitley Park School, regarding new services that could be implemented, such as breakfast clubs. We completed around 50 surveys, which was an amazing response. From the feedback of parents, we created a report with both qualitative and quantitative data (making pie charts have been is probably the best part of this internship so far!). This was important to us as it allowed us some independence in our work, however, those at RVA were still supporting and encouraging of the work we were doing.

We got around 50 responses to our online questionnaire, from young people ranging from 14 to 24. This helped us to understand what the barriers to volunteering are for some young people and also what they enjoy the most about it. This was helpful to our research as we could start looking at how to overcome these barriers and what to keep emphasising when advertising volunteering to young people.

We also adjusted this questionnaire so that people subscribed to RVA Youth could respond. This, we believe, should give us a more rounded view of how young people perceive volunteering as well as helping to answer questions we found ourselves asking after the previous questionnaire.

As we collected responses we began to type up a proposal for how RVA could appeal more to younger people. This proposal was split into our research, and how this research can help with persuading more young people to volunteer. Some of the ideas were those of our survey respondents and others were our own ideas, gathered from conversations with peers.

By this point we were very used to our new work environment, which made us feel more confident in our abilities. The fact we were able to brainstorm, research, collaborate with others, and eventually have something tangible to show for all our work gave us a feeling of pride in our work.

Also this week: Nikki turned twenty! 🙂

Week 1   

We were both very excited to start off our first week as interns. As our main aim was to look at how to encourage more young people to volunteer, we started off by spending some time researching  volunteering by looking at different organisations, the opportunities available and how to get involved. We developed this knowledge by attending a showcase event, ‘Narrowing the Gap’ where local organisations spoke about the work that they are doing.

This gave us a better understanding of what other work is going on in the voluntary sector and how we could link the organisations to some of our own research.

As the week progressed, our overall aim began to take shape.

We met with several organisations (including Mencap, Get Reading, Reading Community Learning Centre and local volunteer-run shops) to find out what kind of work they do, how they get volunteers and how well this works for them.

From these interviews, we learnt how important young volunteers are for organisations and how important the volunteer work is for young people. Using this, we began to look at why it may be that some young people may have not volunteered and how we could go about changing this.

As well as understanding how organisations felt about young volunteers, we thought it would be important to gain an insight into how the young people felt themselves. So, we decided to create and circulate an online questionnaire, regarding young people and their views on volunteering. To gain a larger response, we left this questionnaire open over the weekend, so we could go over the feedback in week three.

Alongside the research, we began to prepare for the following week’s work: carrying out a survey at a local primary school.  We decided upon the questions by researching clubs that are already running in the Berkshire area.

Although it was just our first full week, we felt on track with our work and that we had accomplished a lot … so we rewarded ourselves with doughnuts!