Friday 21 August 2015

Hannah Swirsky interns at Emmaus Bristol

Hannah Intern 2

Hannah spent the time with Peter Gifford who heads up the team at the business incubator unit based at Emmaus Bristol’s charity superstore. 

The unit gives support to start-up businesses and offers networking opportunities, mentoring and training.  The businesses are run by people from all sorts of backgrounds, often those escaping a cycle of homelessness or overcoming personal challenges.

Here she tells her story of how she came to be here and what she has gained so far from the experience.

I heard about Emmaus through the Student Hub social impact internship scheme. I applied for the scheme and was matched with Emmaus. I’ve been working with the community for four weeks to create an internship program for the business incubator.

I share the charity’s commitment to social justice and welcomed the opportunity to work with them; particularly because of the support they offer people who are overcoming challenges such as homelessness. Within communities, enabling and empowering people to make positive changes is vital and I wanted to work somewhere that does exactly that.

A typical day starts by going through emails and sorting out tasks for the day. I’ve been spending quite a long time writing up an entrepreneur’s handbook and doing some research into micro finance and business incubation elsewhere. I attend weekly team meetings and see different people who work at Emmaus to find out more about what they do and what they would want from an intern so that I can create an internship program for the future. 

I’ve met plenty of interesting people during my time here. I have particularly enjoyed meeting the entrepreneurs who use the incubation unit and finding out about their business or social enterprise. Most of the businesses are community orientated, which makes working at the unit feel rewarding as you know that you’re contributing to positive social change.

I’ve got a lot out of being here. I’ve met lots of new people and I have improved my communication skills and feel much more confident. I’ve learnt a lot about business incubation and social enterprise which can be a vital self-sustaining solution to a social problem. More generally, I have gained a great deal of knowledge and experience of how a charitable organisation works and how important empowerment is in facilitating social change. 

The best thing about my time at Emmaus has been working with different people and gaining insight into how people go about starting up their own businesses. Everyone here is so friendly and happy to help. It makes me feel motivated and part of a community.

I did not have a great deal of business knowledge before coming here, so I have  learned a lot as I have gone along and have been taught a great deal by Peter, who is head of the Business Incubation Unit. I have been doing a lot of research into the different grants and loans that are available so I know a lot more now.

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