Having studied development and education policy in South Asia over the course of my degree, I was eager to follow my academic interests in more practical work. I was really excited when I came across PHASE through the Bristol University internship scheme. Not only did its integrated work in healthcare, education and livelihood interest me, but I was eager to work for an organisation committed to sustainable development and which created a lasting impact in the areas in which it worked.
Over the last 10 weeks, all my expectations about PHASE have been exceeded. Reading the testimonies of those who had worked in Nepal, I saw how engaged PHASE was with the communities it worked with, and how this was effectively translated into the projects which made a real difference to people’s lives. Editing case studies sent over by PHASE Nepal about their work, I was impressed at how not only provision in health and education had improved, but how attitudes, towards things like gender and hygiene changed for the better.
Because of the small size of the office I was able to see directly how the organisation operated. I saw how finances were closely monitored and reviewed, such as in an evaluation of a new ticket booking system, to try and keep costs low so other activities and projects could be invested in. Engaging with the network of supporters, trustees, and volunteers also showed me how significant a role they play in what PHASE does, and I enjoyed seeing how passionate they were about the cause. As PHASE was undergoing a rebrand during my internship I got an insight into the positive perceptions of PHASE held by supporters, which went into the consideration of its new image.
The period of the rebrand was a really exciting time to be part of the organisation as, in conjunction with the image change, PHASE was pursuing more opportunities, having grown in strength over the past few years. In witnessing these plans I learnt a lot about the international development landscape and how charities successfully grow themselves.
I also learnt a range of practical skills in research, communications, and writing for different platforms and audiences, helping write press releases, social media content and newsletters. Helping to plan, advertise and organise the schedule of events for the next year was an extremely useful experience, and showed me how much work goes into creating large scale events such as the gala dinner. I was also lucky enough to be involved with the run up to an event with Brian Blessed that generated a lot of interest, in which I contacted local news sources to advertise the event and helped to come up with new ways to engage the audience on social media.
Additionally, Sarah and Jon showed me how to use the database through which I was able to gain a better understanding of where funding comes from, peoples reasons for donating, and how reliable or unreliable it could be. One of the best parts of the experience was getting the chance to help edit reports on big projects funded by really significant organisations and funders like DFID and the Big Lottery Fund. These experiences massively furthered my understanding of how charities operate and the challenges they can face.
Working in the office over the past three months has been such an enjoyable experience. Seeing how a small team is able to contribute to such significant changes has really furthered my passion for international development work. Not only have I loved getting involved with everything, but I feel that this experience has equipped me with the skills and insight to pursue work in this area in the future.
Asa Dickinson, November 2017
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