I caught up with Alanna, who’s recently joined the Acts Team on a six month placement as a ‘Projects Assistant’ through Kickstart. Alanna is working across the charity helping out with most of our projects each week, including with young people at Energize holiday clubs and schemes, Restore courses and our Community Grocery.
Alanna had a brilliant interview with us and has made a strong start. I caught up with her last week to see how she’s getting on.
Tell us a bit about yourself; what’s led you up to this point in life, what are your hobbies and passions?
I’m Alanna, I have been working with Acts for just over a month now! In 2020, I graduated form the University of Bristol in Psychology and since then have worked as an Inclusivity Project Researcher supporting young LGTBQ+ young people and their families. I love to travel and previously I have worked in Paris and Barcelona as an Au Pair and worked as a waitress in the French Alps for a season, all of which were great experiences that introduced me to new cultures and opportunities! I am really passionate about creating equal opportunities and supporting individuals and communities to be able to access the support they need, particularly when it comes to mental health.
What is Kickstart, and what drew you to come and work with Acts?
Kickstart is a government funded scheme offering six-month work placements to 16-24 year olds to get back into work and gain the work experience they require. I was drawn to work with Acts as I felt they offered the perfect opportunity for me to gain the skills, training and experience I would need to develop as a community and mental health support worker in the future. I also felt they were really committed to offering and ensuring my time with them was enriching, varied and positive.
What does your role with Acts entail?
My role as Community Projects Assistant enables me to work across Acts on a diverse range of projects delivering support to so many different people and communities. So far, this has involved supporting the delivery of the Restore courses, such as the Life Ready course which supports people to build strong foundations for life. I will also soon be involved in the Restore coaching support which I am very excited for.
I also support the Energize team working to deliver evening youth clubs and holiday schemes across the city. This has been a great opportunity to get to know some great kids and offer arts and crafts activities, organize sports activities and more.
Finally, I also have the opportunity to support the Community Grocery which has been such a rewarding experience and a great learning opportunity to understand how I can support the worsening living crisis in Lincoln and tackle food waste whilst meeting lots of friendly faces.
What are you hoping to get out of working for Acts, and conversely, what impact do you hope to have?
By working for Acts, I am hoping to support and empower individuals and communities and make a positive impact on hopefully at least one person’s life, if not more! I am hoping to gain a whole host of transferable skills that will help me to deliver impactful, empathetic support going forward and I look forward to contributing to great projects in the community that I grew up in.
You’ve been working with us for about a month now. What have been some of your highlights so far?
My highlights so far have been meeting so many people from different backgrounds and having some insightful and empowering conversations. I have also appreciated the opportunity to further my understanding of the challenges that people in my community face and learning how I can contribute to creating positive outcomes. Working with the kids through the Energize schemes has been so much fun and given me a great refresher on timeless games such as stuck in the mud and dodgeball!
I also love the community grocery! It’s such a great initiative and lovely space where everyone that works to make it happen are so positive.
Check out what’s on here if you’d like to get some help with us, or book your children into some activities with Energize.
How about the biggest challenges?
I think the biggest challenge so far has been having some difficult conversations with Acts service users who are in challenging situations or struggling and understanding and realising the lack of opportunities they are often faced with. It has also given me the chance to check my privilege and realise how different the experience of living in Lincoln can be.
You can support local people facing these challenges by giving to us financially.
What are your own hopes for after your placement with us?
After my placement, my hope is to continue to support under-served communities however I can. I am passionate about pursuing a career that creates accessible mental health support and services for communities that find it difficult to access this based on a number of factors. I would like to explore possible interventions and policies that work towards challenging mental health stigma and stereotypes enabling easily accessible, judgement-free services for all communities. I would also like to do some more travelling if possible, potentially combining my passion for research and academia.
If you’re involved with any of our projects, you’ll likely meet Alanna in the coming weeks. Do say hello and help her continue to feel welcome!
By Lauren Johnson
Over the course of the pandemic, young people across Lincoln have connected in with Energize in various ways through schools work delivery, holiday schemes, sports, evening youth clubs, and trips.