In this blog, Claire Horn shares insights into her experience as an intern at CVSL between March and July 2023. During the period, Claire worked on events planning and management, undertook desk research and did outreach work to increase CVSL reach, among other activities.
I was in the last stages of studying a module with the Open University's Business School when I received an email notification of an opportunity to intern with the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership. While I had heard of them through my studies, such as their collaboration with Lloyds Bank Foundation and others to provide insights into 'The value of small' and medium-sized charities within England and Wales, I did not know much about who CVSL were and what they did.
In March, I started my internship, and here are my thoughts, insights, and reflections that I have gained during this experience.
My initial thought upon joining and starting to understand the scope of the work CVSL undertakes is how little I knew about CVSL before and how I could help to increase the centre's visibility. After all, CVSL has a lot of valuable resources and knowledge for the voluntary sector.
So briefly, the best things that CVSL can offer voluntary sector organisations, in my opinion, are these:
Knowledge: Free, online courses, open to anyone, developed by CVSL with more currently developed, including two OpenLearn courses (Black Leadership and Building Up your Power and Influence) to go live in the 2023/2024 academic year.
Inspiration and insights: Webinars about various topics and recordings for these are also available. I was fortunate to participate in the 2023 CVSL annual conference on voluntary sector organisations' resilience and response to the cost of living crisis. At the May 2023 conference, a wide range of guest speakers, including Paul Streets (CEO, Lloyds Bank Foundation); Ed Mayo (CEO, Pilotlight); Kaveed Ali (COO, UK Community Foundations); Tom Lawson (CEO, Turn2Us); Maggie Lennon (former Director and Founder, Bridges Programmes); Binita Morjaria (EDI and Belonging Lead, MK-ACT ); Anna Trudgian (Operations Director, Open Road), provided interesting insights and inspiring ideas throughout the day. Speakers' provocative questions paved the way for rich discussions during the Questions and Answers session and in the chat function of the virtual conference room.
Research and experience: The people who work within and alongside CVSL hold vast knowledge spanning multiple subjects and fields of expertise. They have undertaken research within these areas, meaning it is likely that at some point, some, if not multiple, research activities have occurred relevant to your field within the voluntary sector, which may be helpful or thought-provoking.
Future opportunities: Since my internship commenced, I have attended a webinar about 'going digital', which included a competence framework and a toolkit, and the annual conference, which explored the impact of the cost of living and how organisations are and can continue to respond to this, and a webinar about 'taking racial equity seriously' which provided statistics on inequalities, personal testimonies, sharing of good practices and insightful conversations during the Q&A session afterwards. The easiest way to be updated with future opportunities to join and be a part of these experiences is through joining the CVSL mailing list, which also contains other updates, including recent blog posts.
This internship has provided me with multiple new skills and a boost to my existing ones. I plan to remain on the mailing list and stay informed about what is happening within CVSL and the Voluntary sector within the UK. I will always continually learn and grow as there is always more to learn and understand, especially when there are so many changes within the world daily. A quote that I try to always keep in mind is this:
Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it”Maya Angelou
We can only sometimes know some things. Still, we can always ensure we are open to new ideas, new perspectives and working together can help to ensure that we all continue to grow as best as we can and enjoy the journey along the way!
11th August 2023