STRiVE Issue 5

by Harriet Smith

I decided to apply for the VICTA Young Ambassador programme in 2019 because I wanted to have the opportunity to further develop my writing skills and increase my confidence in working within a team.

I also wanted to meet new people and improve my employment prospects. For my secondary education I attended New College Worcester (a boarding school for visually impaired people), then went on to study Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire where I gained a 2.1 degree. One of the main projects during the programme was to work on and design an online newsletter called Strive with a small group of young visually impaired people between the ages of 18 to 29 from across the country, and given my passion for writing and aforementioned degree, this was another reason it appealed to me.

Around the same time, VICTA also offered me a six-month internship which ran alongside the Young Ambassador programme which I was delighted to accept. When I first started, I was very nervous as I’d never done an internship before so didn’t know what to expect, but I enjoyed meeting the other Young Ambassadors and soon settled into the team. I travelled to VICTA’s office in Fenny Stratford three days a week which helped me to establish a good working routine. Having not had much experience of working in an office previously, I enjoyed being part of the team and becoming familiar with office duties, such as attending regular meetings.

One of my roles during the internship was to co-ordinate the Young Ambassadors which involved reading, editing and sending back their articles for the Strive newsletter when they were ready. As well as this, I wrote a wide variety of articles for the VICTA website and social media channels, helping to raise awareness of the charity in general. One of my highlights was when I had the opportunity to interview BBC Radio 4 broadcaster Peter White who is blind. I researched and wrote the questions myself as well as transcribing his answers, all of which contributed to and developed my interview skills. I was so disappointed when my internship was disrupted suddenly by the Coronavirus pandemic last year because I was six weeks away from finishing it. However, I’m pleased to say it has since recommenced and I’ve been continuing to work from home. Although I don’t have the routine of going into the office, working from home suits me well as it’s what I’ve always been used to. I’m still able to do all the writing that is required, and Young Ambassador meetings have been held over Zoom. I hope I can return to the office when it is safe to do so though.

Since my internship, in April this year I started a part-time job at Northamptonshire Association for the Blind (NAB), which is the local sight loss charity for the county where I live. I work one day a week for seven hours as a Communications Assistant which involves writing articles for the charity’s website and social media channels. My internship with VICTA helped towards getting this job because I was able to build on my team-working skills and similar qualities I learnt during my time there.

I would highly recommend an internship with VICTA to any future Young Ambassadors. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills, increase confidence and meet new people. Also, it’s a positive addition to add to your CV. I am looking forward to completing the remainder of my internship and would like to thank everyone at VICTA for all the support they have given me so far.

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