As we announced in February, we were one of three organisations that were selected for the University of Glasgow’s ‘Find a Solution’ programme. This programme allows students to gain valuable work experience whilst using skills they have gained during their studies and is run by the University of Glasgow Settlement.GUS_Logo

The Settlement was initially established in the late 19th century by pioneering female students, with the aim of helping support people in the poorer areas of Glasgow, and over the years it has contributed to a number of invaluable services and projects across the city. We’re proud to be a part of this rich history!

Rebecca and Melanie are working with us over the summer for 8 weeks, carrying out research in order to inform our future plans. They’ll be talking to the people we work with to get a better idea of their key local environmental and social issues, find out their perception of the DRCET, and identify ways we could reach more people.

We caught up with them after their first two weeks to find out how they’ve been getting on…

DRCET: Firstly, could you tell us a little bit about yourselves?

Rebecca: I’m about to enter my last year of my law degree at Glasgow Uni, where I am particularly interested in human rights and public international law.  I work part-time in an environmental charity called LandTrust, which distributes funds to the creation and improvement of local public spaces. My spare time is usually spent with friends – at music gigs, comedy shows or wasting the day away in Kelvingrove Park. I’ll often be spotted out on a run in the West End (or limping back from one).

Melanie: I’ve just finished studying geography and politics at Glasgow Uni, and also work part time at the university. When not in the library, I can be found at the local climbing wall, in the WooStreetsAhead_04dlands Community Garden, or in my kitchen…or over the summer, possibly in the Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre!

DRCET: How have the first two weeks been? What have you been doing?

Rebecca: My first two weeks working with DRCET have been a great experience. I have learnt a lot more about the work DRCET does to enhance and protect the local environment. I am very impressed by the amount of effort and dedication that everyone involved with the Trust puts in, and it was lovely to see this commitment recognised at the Streets Ahead Awards where the DRCET won the award for Best Environmental Initiative!

Melanie: The first two weeks have flown by! It’s been great to hit the ground running, and I feel like I’ve got a good overview of what the  DRCET does in a fairly short space of time. So far we’ve been familiarising ourselves with the work of the Trust, and carried out surveys at Anniesland College Garden Show, and at the Active Seniors Day in the Park in Victoria Park.

AnnieslandGardenShow2013_03DRCET: What really excites you about this Find a Solution project?

Rebecca: The Find a Solution programme is a really rewarding way to spend the summer months. Becoming involved with the programme allows us to use and develop our skills in a practical manner. Additionally, we get to see the work that leading voluntary organisations like the DRCET does. It’s really great to see projects that are making a huge difference to the local community and get to work with the people that are behind this.

Melanie: I’m keen to get out and speak to the people the Trust is working with – I find it really inspiring to hear from people who are active in their local communities, and am really happy to be able to help with the work of the Trust. This project is also a great opportunity for me to use research skills developed during my dissertation, in the real world!

DRCET: What are you looking forward to doing over the next few weeks?ActiveSeniors_DRCETStand_Jun13

Rebecca:  It’s been really encouraging to see just how supportive the communities DRCET works in are; I have already met a huge amount of people that are committed to improving the lives of others, and I’m looking forward to working with these people to learn more about what their key environmental concerns are, and what the DRCET can do to address these issues in the coming weeks.

Melanie: Getting out and about, and meeting everyone… hearing their concerns and working out the best ways which DRCET could help address them.

DRCET: What would you be doing if you weren’t here?

Rebecca: The sun is shining, so I’d probably be in my back garden with a book, some strawberries and excessive amounts of tea.

Melanie: I would be at home mending a bike puncture whilst listening to a Radiolab podcast.

DRCET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Rebecca: Caught a last-minute bus from Barcelona to Krakow because it was the cheapest destination. I did not consider that I would be alone on a bus for 45 hours with no Polish language skills. The journey involved lots of smiling at others but very little conversation!

Melanie: I moved to China for 6 months, only knowing 5 words of Chinese… It worked out fine in the end and I’d do it again in a flash, but the first few weeks were quite tricky! I ended up getting buses to lots of unintended destinations.

So if you see Rebecca and Melanie out and about over the next few weeks be sure to say hello!!