By Benjamin Steward

After reading previous blog posts of other students’ experiences of the City of Lincoln Council placements I was filled with optimism at what it had to offer and so had no hesitation in applying. The opportunity to work with the Council caught my interest as it would give me the chance to see how policies and strategies are constructed in real-world situations, not just the academic world (not to mention the chance to test it as a viable career path).

I was placed within the Community Services section surrounded by a fantastic team that made me feel more than welcome and were key in making my time a great experience. Unfortunately, I was not able to take part in the original project that had been intended for me because of staff secondments. Due to this, there was no project ready for me to join. However, rather than this leading to a month of unexciting tasks, I was asked what areas of Social Policy interest me and was placed on projects where it was believed I could provide additional knowledge. Keen that I would take away beneficial experiences, I was given opportunities to join projects that of interest to me throughout the four weeks.

One project I was asked to become involved in was concerning the allotments in Lincoln, which was certainly an area of study I have never been interested in. Whilst this project may seem distant from Social Policy and perhaps a bit mundane on first reflection, surprisingly, the task actually allowed me to use and enhance the skills I had learned in the first two years of my degree study. I was asked to create a survey concerning the satisfaction of allotment tenants by collecting the data from different allotments in Lincoln and analyse the results. This saw me not only use research methods but engage with local people about a council service some of them feel very strongly about.

Each project was engaging with different skill sets required for each. Another project I worked on was about volunteering within Lincoln and wrote a report on how such support benefitted different areas for the Council, such as at a national and local level and how and who to engage with different demographic and income groups to volunteer. This project taught me not just volunteering statistics, but how reports are written by the Council. The final placement week saw me end up in court concerning Travellers on Lincoln’s South Common, highlighting the varied nature of tasks undertaken during my four weeks.

During all this, I also shadowed Ric Metcalfe, Leader of the City Council, on some of his different engagements. I was able to sit in on cross-council project meetings, cross-departmental meetings, and a meeting of the Council at the Guildhall, which all allowed me to understand and see how the Council operates and achieves the objectives set out.

The placement was thoroughly thought provoking and eye opening. It has positively impacted me in numerous ways, such as aiding my understanding of policy processes in real life and giving me great insight into a possible career. My thanks go to all those at the City of Lincoln Council I had contact with for making my experience such a positive time. I encourage any other students who may have had even the slightest of interests in anything I have said to apply and take part in this placement.