We are now right in the middle of my favourite time of year – Community Action Placements time! When I started at The Rank Foundation in April 2015, I didn’t know very much about CAP and felt I had a lot to learn. Since then, I’ve realised this is probably how most of our newly selected Leadership Award Holders feel. This is the second summer of CAP that I have been involved in, and this year has been particularly rewarding.
To those of you who aren’t familiar with Community Action Placements (CAP), they are exactly what they say on the tin – placements within the community. Every April, a new cohort of around 25-30 students are selected to become Rank Foundation Leadership Award Holders. They are all just finishing their GCSEs and transfer into sixth form the following September, and their Head teacher puts them forward to The Rank Foundation because they show high standards of leadership potential. The Rank Foundation is with them throughout the entirety of their sixth form life, and we request that in return for our financial help with their education, they commit to two sets of two-week placements across the two years they are with us at a charity we have connections with.
We have been running these placements for many years, and the main purpose of CAP is to expose these young leaders to community projects and problems that exist in the UK, taking them out of their comfort zone to experience what ‘real need’ feels like, and get them involved with people who can show them how to make a difference in their community. To first year Leadership Award Holders this can be really daunting, but ultimately once they are on the placement, they are nearly always bowled over by what an impact the placement has had on their young life. By the second year of their award, the Leadership Award Holders are really keen to go back on placement, see something new and get really involved.
I think reading their reports post-placement is possibly one of the most rewarding parts of them job. Having been their age not so long ago, it is easy to see that they are only just beginning to realise what an impact these placements will have on their future.
One of our very new Leadership Award Holders, Olivia McCann, did her first placement this summer at Brook in Birkenhead, Liverpool.
“I have found my work placement in Liverpool to be an incredibly eye-opening and enlightening experience. The staff were all very supportive and it was a pleasure to be part of such a hard-working team. One of the highlights of my time at Brook was being involved in the ‘Diversity Role Models’ session in two local high schools. I found the experience to be very eye-opening as I was able to listen to first hand experiences of homophobia and gain an understanding of the many difficulties LGBTs still face in modern society. I particularly enjoyed helping with admin after these events as I was able to see how these sessions had influenced the attitudes of the pupils regarding sexuality and discrimination. I also gained a lot of insight during outreach activities such as ‘Bitesize’ and ‘Positive Futures’ as well as learning how to deal with sensitive issues whilst working as a team. My biggest challenge was having to travel such a long distance alone and living independently from my parents. In this way, I gained a lot of independence whilst in Liverpool as I had to organise my own time and travel effectively. I found my host family to be very welcoming and I particularly liked the fact that I was living with foreign exchange students and had the opportunity to meet new people and learn about other cultures. Overall, I have found my time with Brook to be very memorable and rewarding and I am very grateful for the opportunity to work alongside a leading charity and witness the impact of its work. I would be absolutely delighted to work with Brook in the future on a similar placement.”
Archie Brown, one of our second-year Leadership Award Holders, headed up to Bradford to The Edge Project this summer.
“At The Edge Centre I have had the opportunity to work with some very inspirational people, most of them having grown up on the estate. They are great company to work besides and you get the feeling they are really striving to make a difference in the community. They run daily drop in sessions for kids to come in and use the facilities the centre offers. These sessions have been a great opportunity for me to get to know the kids on the estate and set a good example. I have also been involved with a baby bank where parents, particularly teenage parents, can come and get support. The baby bank offers them everything from baby food to toddlers clothes. They also run various other sessions throughout the week including performing arts, girls club and breakfast club for child carers. All of which gave me the opportunity to build a relationship with the kids that came regularly and really tested my leadership qualities. I have also been working in the Church with Hilary, my host, on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday working with a program called Daybreak, helping out senior members of the community. Overall, it has been a very eye opening and even life changing experience, one I will definitely be looking to do again in the near future.”
We are always looking to the charities we work with to help provide placements for CAP. With the demand for placements getting higher each year, we are looking to expand the group of charities that we work with on CAP, so if you think your organisation might be able to help, and you have an existing relationship with The Rank Foundation, please get in touch so we can give you more information.