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May 22, 2018

Time to Shine Student Placement: Reflections from Mackenzie

“My Name is Mackenzie and I work for the Leeds Older Peoples Forum” has been my catch phrase for the past 5 weeks whilst completing my University placement at Time to Shine. 

I currently attend Leeds Trinity University studying criminology in my second year and as one of my modules I have had to complete a professional placement. My role within the organisation has been to work with the Age Friendly Campaign Officer to introduce the Come in and Rest scheme to the city
centre, which has been nothing short of a challenge! 

The Come in and Rest scheme asks businesses to put a sticker in their window advertising that they are an age friendly premises where older people know that they’ll feel welcome. If an older person needs a place to rest for a few minutes they can pop in, catch their breath and then go on their way. 

The Scheme is very beneficial as 47p of every £1 in the UK is spent by someone over 50, meaning that building an age friendly reputation gives a great financial gain as well as providing an age friendly space for the UK’s aging population.

The first week of my placement had me all over the city centre getting nothing but maybes and rejections. One of the shops, which is frequently full of elderly people, said they did not want to participate because they were already “like social workers” even though it would have been a perfect fit for the scheme. In other cases, a lot of the managers weren’t present. 

For my second week it was much more of the same, until I got to the Corn Exchange and the Royal Armouries and the Leeds city museum which were among my first and only yes’s in the city centre; luckily their managers were in for me to speak to!

The city centre was tough, so we may have to change the approach to get more sign-ups; I’m sure that the scheme will be implemented all across the city soon enough. 

However, to get some yes’s, my attentions turned elsewhere.

After a few emails back and forth with the Mayor of Otley I got him on board to help me push the scheme in his town. Initially I thought he may meet me for half an hour to discuss where the best places in Otley would be to implement the scheme—however Mayor Nigel Francis took the entire day out to come round with me, helping speak to the businesses all around the town centre of Otley, which was a great help as he knew everyone! 

Otley proved far more enthusiastic than the city centre, getting more yes’s in the first hour than two weeks in Leeds city centre. Otley is a very age friendly place and it was good for me to finally get some participants to the scheme and finally feel like I was helping!

My placement at Time to shine has been challenging but very useful and also rather enjoyable in the nice weather! Learning to talk to businesses and people alongside the less glamourous job of completing admin is all great experience for the future, and working for a worthwhile cause has been very fulfilling. 

I’d like to thank everyone at Time to Shine for making my work placement so enjoyable and worthwhile.