Starting Cartwheel Arts as a MMU placement.
Meeting the team: Well being nervous is very common when starting something new. But when I walked in and sat down the nerves stopped and I automatically felt comfortable because the atmosphere in Cartwheel Arts is welcoming, friendly and exciting.
The first day…
So I walked in and found that Gala my supervisor for my placement had organised everything perfectly onto a desk and even got me a laptop prepared so I can use it whilst on placement. Everything that I was going to do was organised on a planned timetable and I was given a folder to keep all my work sheets etc inside. Because it was my first day, the most important thing to do was look through all the policies and legislations that have been put out to protect the staff and also the service users from unnecessary problems. I read through Cartwheel Arts child protection policy, Cartwheel arts equality, diversity and inclusion policy, human rights act and equality act 2010 so that I had an idea of how the company works. I read through the data protection policy and then also signed a confidentiality form so that I help protect the service users that the company works with. An organised introduction form was made for me, telling me everything that I was going to do. I then had a mini tour of the office and the upstairs rooms. I met the team and introduced myself. I then sorted out all the paper work that I needed before I started doing the placement hours.
My first couple of days at Cartwheel Arts and I have already experienced many things that I didn’t think I would have in a lifetime. I got the chance to sit in and listen to an artist getting interviewed. I never felt what it would be like to sit on the other side of the table while someone is getting interviewed. I always saw myself as the person who gets interviewed. Not watching someone else getting interviewed. Especially not in an area like art. I was able to see the professionalism of interviews in the ‘real life world’ and how and what makes someone a good candidate. It was good for me to watch this interview take place as I got insight onto how I would do an interview in the future and how I would act and be professional in such situations. I also learnt how to work on the Cartwheel Database to add in information and add people into the database.
Unfortunately, I missed half a day of placement due to falling ill. I came in and helped Rick with some photocopying and organising and I was just getting worse so I then went home as Rick was really busy with things that he needed to do and I just needed my bed and a hot water bottle.
Ahh The Scribble Fest. Not something I would have ever looked into or gone to myself. But I truly feel like I have converted. The workshop with Shamshad Khan was one of the most emotional and interesting workshops I have ever been to. People who came to the workshop were extremely friendly and confident. It made me realise that I was being nervous for no reason. It built the strength in me to speak up and hep others who may need support. The idea of bringing up past memories about parent-child relationships was amazing as it allowed people to bring up their emotional and loving past experiences with their parents. Some workshop participants got very emotional which nearly made me teary so I had to look away. It felt extremely good to help people who weren’t able to explain themselves properly therefore asking questions and writing it down for them helped them bring out their past memories. After the workshops each group had the chance to read out the piece of work they have written about. I supported one of the workshop participants and helped them read out their piece of work.
Lunchtime was great to get to know some of the other writers who did workshops. It gave you the chance to meet other people from the different workshops and praise them for the work they have read out. Even though I was in an ill state and had a very bad sore throat, I made sure that I got involved with the participants and enjoyed myself as well. The scribble fest is open for the public so many people joined on the day and they enjoyed themselves. I stayed at the front line handing people booklets and bags full of information and getting them to register. Once the presentations started Rick told me to go inside and make sure that I watch as it will be beneficial for me. I got interested in the presentation as it wasn’t just someone reading, it was someone entertaining and being enthusiastic about art and poet. after the workshops there was entertainment which unfortunately I had to miss, But I heard it was great and the night ended very well.
AGM. Well the AGM was probably the one place where I felt so welcomed and weirdly confident. Before going to the meeting we all met in the office to gather all the paper work, information and data so that we are well prepared before we start the AGM. We made sure that we took down pencils, pens, booklets and that all the financial statements were organised and stapled together. We then all set off to go to the AGM together. I followed Galas car with my car and got lost for like 5 minutes. I parked the car and just waited and called Gala, she then navigated me back to the AGM so I finally got there ahha. It started off where I stayed at the front and registered everyone when they walked into the hall and handed out information sheets etc. after most people had entered the room I went and joined and sat with everyone. The meeting went on and many things about cartwheel Art was explained. I wasn’t too sure what was going on in the start of the AGM. After that it was lunch time and I probably ate 3 rounds of food ahahaha… There was chicken and sandwiches and chicken and more chicken! The food was great!! After that we had small workshops and this was the time I realised that university does help me as I was able to speak to many different professionals. We talked about how to get younger people more involved with Cartwheel Arts and it was really nice how everyone wanted to listen to what I had to say and kept saying ‘what’s your opinion about this’. The conversation was interesting and comfortable. This is something I usually did whilst doing presentations at university with different groups so it was nice to put theory into practice. The day went really well and everyone left around 9pm. It was a great, productive day.
Day in the office…
Office work is really good overall as I was able to help everyone with little tasks to make their work load easier. Even using a photocopier and printing things and organising are all beneficial for when I finish my placement and start working in the employment sector. I believe that everything you do on placement is experience for the future…
Art group… (Art for wellbeing)
Kerry invited me to a morning with her group of artists!! There were snacks and I got the chance to see some amazing pieces of work. There was this one piece of artwork that someone was working on that really touched me. It was a collages of random pictures that he put together of a man sleeping on a sofa with a silhouette of himself looking over him with wings. It was like a guardian angel (himself in spirit) was protecting him while he slept. It was an amazing idea and a good piece of work. There were many portraits as well which were fantastic!! I took pictures of the work and put it up on my twitter page so their work can be seen. It was great that I had the chance to meet the service users and ask them why they liked what they were doing. But the truth is I didn’t even need to ask them as you can see it in their eyes and the way that they present their work and how proud they are of their work. I felt like Cartwheel Arts really supports communities as the people I met seemed like a group of people who have come together and I felt a great sense of community sitting with them. After this I drove straight to university.
Bit of out of hours… Or shall I say ‘off the records’
I got the honour to cut Galas hair!!! The reason am putting this into my blog is because I feel like it was something that helped me in my personal life. I was able to chat to Gala while I did her hair for her. She gave me some advice and I felt like I was able to relate to the things she was saying. I was able to speak to Gala about things I don’t really talk about which felt like stress relief. Overall I really enjoyed the talk with Gala as it made me feel comfortable and I felt like I got to know a little more about the staff that I am working with.
This was a great day. So we met around 6pm in Manchester and everyone went for drinks. We slowly waited for everyone to get together while everyone just kept drinking ahaha. We then went to spinning fields and we played a game called curling. It was the first time I had heard about this. It was the funniest thing ever!! Everyone was slipping and tripping on the ice ahaha. Gala had her heels on so she was not happy when she realised we would be walking around on the ice ahah. Kerry and me were around the same score throughout the game but she beat me! Because I just couldn’t push the heavy metal thingies around! They were really heavy!! After that we walked to Thaikhun which was the Thai restaurant that we went to to eat from. We all sat down and were really hungry. We ordered or food and waited patiently for it. We had good chats and lots of laughs. We ordered the Christmas meals, a vegetarian one and a meat one. I’ve never ate thigh food before which was something new and different for me too. It was actually really tasty and since then I’ve been two other times aha. It was the first time I tried a Thai green curry which was really tasty. The food was great and the company was great. When everyone was full we took a moment to open up Christmas presents. We did a secret santa which was really funny tbh. Well we all put are hands into a big bag and chose each others gifts. There was a facts on the loo book which kept us entertained, there was a moving robot salt and pepper pots, a harmonica, the labour party even joined us by being on a mug ahah.. Rick and I both got each other for secret Santa. The funny thing is we both got mugs for our presents ahah. Rick got a Christmas mug full of sweets and I got a labour mug (Thank goodness I support the labour party). We got Christmas hats and took many many pictures! The day went perfectly and I enjoyed every moment! Probably the best Christmas party that I have been to.
Last day of placement. Today was the first time that I came into the office and found it very full. I started the day by working on my blogging and my presentation for university which was based around Cartwheel Arts as it was part of my assessment. I sat in the front room and watched Kerry interviewing someone. This was good experience as I got to see a different type of interview. This was more of an interview about partnerships and how different companies like Cartwheel Arts get together and talk about the different ways of supporting and helping the community. I then organised my blog and finally published it.
Due to my very busy and difficult university, work and home life, I only got a chance to work in Cartwheel Arts for a short time. How ever this short time with Cartwheel Arts has been the best experience that I have ever had. I got to meet great staff, look into a different community and area like Heywood (The cake shop sells delicious éclairs), the town is peaceful and the community rooms available are spacious and great to use. It was good to see a different area than Oldham to see how other communities work. I am going to miss seeing everyone and I am even going to miss the drive to Cartwheel Arts as I got to see many different surroundings. I have enjoyed every moment working with Cartwheel Arts and maybe once I finish my degree I would work in a field scubas the community or with vulnerable service users like Cartwheel Arts.
I really appreciate the staff in Cartwheel Arts and the patients that they have had with me. They have been very supportive and gave me flexibility as I am in my third yer of uni and was struggling to fit my hours in with my uni work, with my part time job and with my family like. I would like to thank them for everything they have done for me and the independence that they have given me. I have enjoyed every moment and the staff at Cartwheel Art are probably the best people to work with and am glad I had the chance to be a part of the team. Thank you for taking me on.
MMU Placement Student