Over the past six months, I have been carrying out a piece of small-scale research for my final year at University. Not only has this placement allowed me to learn new skills and develop my research techniques, it has opened my eyes to really interesting and exciting Community Development work. It has shown me a whole new side of Community Learning and Development (CLD) that I was not aware of.
Throughout the four years of my University course, CLD, we are required to go out on placement and work with different organisations to learn about new areas of work and find out what we are interested in. Each placement I have been on has focussed on youth work, however this year, I decided to leave my comfort zone and let the university pick my placement. Although this decision could have made my final year project more difficult for me as I don’t have much previous experience in community development, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about some of the work Edinburgh Tenant’s Federation (ETF) carries out and witnessing a whole new side of CLD that has hopefully equipped me with new skills for my future work!
For my final project I have been looking at the impact ETF has had on communities and began to do a comparison on the personal and environmental impacts that individuals have noticed. Although it has been a small-scale research project, I have had the opportunity to meet some really interesting people and learn about exciting and inspiring stories and experiences.
One of the most exciting things I have learnt about has been how passionate people are about their communities and making a change in their local areas. It’s been so inspiring to hear about some of the changes that have happened not only in personal lives but also in groups because of the determination and passion people have for the areas they live in and the people around them! Now that I am writing up my data and analysing what people have said, I am learning more and more about the importance of participation within communities and what being a part of an organisation such as ETF can do in personal lives.
Over the next week I will finish writing up my report and looking at theories that relate to community participation and other topics that have arisen from the interviews I have carried out. What’s really surprised me from my research is the diverse nature of ETF and how every individual within the organisation takes something different away and makes it their own! Although I have mainly focused on my research throughout my placement, I have learnt so much on a broader level about community development and some of the processes groups go through to make real changes! Finally I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers and staff at ETF for the incredible experience I have gained throughout my placement. It has certainly been worthwhile.