My experience as a Voice4Change England Summer Intern

I had the opportunity to be an intern at Voice4Change England during the three  months of summer 2018. As a French Student from the Strasbourg Institute of Political Science, summer internships are not mandatory, but recommended in order to confront ourselves to the reality of the subjects we study at the university. I am a student in my first year of Masters in International Relations and European Studies, and will do my second year in International Relations – Conflict and Cooperation. However, I felt that throughout my four years in the Strasbourg Institute, the angle of race and politics was severely lacking, which is why I looked for a summer internship in this field.
 
But, as a French student, it is complicated to find structures that focus on racial equality, for  race is not something to be mentioned in France. For this reason, I started looking to the UK. Having studied a year in Exeter University, I felt that the UK was more open about discussing race and its relation to politics. I found Voice4Change England thanks to the Institute of Race Relations, had an interview with director Kunle Olulode and was accepted.
 
During these three months, my role was mainly to help with events organising and taking care of social media accounts. We organised an event in Hastings about the role of women of colour in the suffragette movement, which helped me learn not only about the bases of event organising, but also about the history of social protests in England. Other projects in which I was involved was the ‘Black and Banned’ season at the British film Institute, and the visit of Tommie Smith to the UK in October.
 
As I was in charge of social media accounts, I had the opportunity to do a one-day training at the Google Academy on how to use social media as a charity. This was very useful to better understand the role of social media in the running of a charity such as Voice4Change, but also to meet people from the charity sector.
 
I did not have to stay in the office all day during these three months, which was a very positive point. I attended meetings with other charities such as a meeting at the Cabinet Office to present the race disparity audit, which allowed me to not only understand the role of ethnic statistics, something that is illegal in France, but also to meet with actors from the race equality sector. Attending these meetings allowed me to understand better how the third sector works.
 
I am very glad that I was given the possibility to share my point of view on race by writing articles on the Voice4Change website. I reported on the suffragette even in Hastings, and wrote about the Football World Cup. This last article allowed me to share my point of view on race in France and to think about the links between race, sport, and national identity in France.
 
This internship at Voice4Change was an opportunity that I could not have found in France. It made me realise that the question of race equality in the UK, if more talked about than in France, is still not achieved in the country. However, I would say that the fact that the problem is recognised by the government and official offices makes it easier for charities and small groups to act. The internship also allowed me to develop skills that I started learning at university, particularly understanding and implementing policy. This practical approach to public policies and civil service issues made me engage with the reality of terrain, giving me a better understanding of grassroots work and its importance.
 
The exchanges with my colleagues Saqib Deshmukh, Kunle Olulode and Sanjiv Lingayah were primordial in my understanding of the UK policy on race, police brutality and charity sector.I am very thankful to have had this opportunity, and would absolutely recommend it to any student that is willing to learn more about the charity sector and the race equality sector.