Laying the Foundation

As part of his studies, Louis spent a week working with COINS Foundation & Habitat for Humanity - he shares his experiences...

First of all, I would like to apologise for the title of this piece but once I had thought of it there was no going back, I’m afraid. That being said, my name is Louis and this post is all about my week of work experience with COINS Foundation and Habitat for Humanity and what I will be taking away from it.

I wanted to conduct my work experience within a charity/social enterprise because it was something completely new to me and a fairly unexplored area for myself to venture into and learn more about. The work of charities has always astounded me due to the colossal amount of dedication and skill it takes to operate one and the fundraising required to achieve the goals set out; this is what intrigued and, later on, convinced me to find out more and take up my work experience in a socially responsible organisation. It presents many opportunities and options going forward and especially since deciding what to do post A-Level it proved a challenge - a week somewhere completely new can help with the process and can either make me say “no, I can’t see myself doing that” or “this could be something for the future”. My week with COINS Foundation has made me realise that the latter certainly applies to me and even if I had walked away with just the knowledge that this was an area I'd like to pursue, then this week would have been a success. Fortunately, there’s much more to it than that.

I chose COINS Foundation because after much deliberation and research it certainly appealed to me the most and allowed me to have two days with Habitat for Humanity, one of their partners, which was a big bonus. So, this week I have seen how the Foundation supports organisations and how they integrate the support they have received in to the ground-breaking work they are completing. Working with the Foundation also provided a unique opportunity to have a small contribution towards the future success of the organisation, who knows maybe this article will win the Nobel prize for literacy; that must have some benefits right? Being realistic, however, I feel that this week has been an opportunity to present new ideas and discuss pressing issues with the teams I am working with and has made me feel that I am part of something much bigger than you and I.

This week I have learnt a lot about how the Foundation and its partners work together to create the best quality of work possible for those they are trying to help. On the back of that, my knowledge of their partners has developed so that I can understand why it is important that organisations like; Challengers which offers inclusive play for young people with disabilities, DFN Project SEARCH which help young people with disabilities find competitive work opportunities and Habitat for Humanity who create opportunities to build homes for those who could not otherwise afford to in some of the worlds most impoverished areas, need support to continue. In addition to these, there is also the Cookie Bar which provides work experience for students at Stepping Stones school, another one of their partners. It provides tea, coffee and, of course, cookies to the hard-working employees of COINS in Slough and has a touring bus that will turn up at festivals and fetes. This week I have been completing research tasks and helping with the media side of things with COINS Foundation, again realising there is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to social enterprises.

I have been inspired by many things during my time here at COINS Foundation, whether that be the countless good things that have come from this enterprise or the people who run it. The dedication of the team and their partners is so apparent to someone working with them; they really care about what they do and it inspired me to care and be as involved as they are in the process. The second thing that really made me take a step back was the stories of those that have been helped or affected in any way from the never ending good that occurs here, which is most things. The story of the families in Uganda building their homes using the micro-finance loans from Habitat and the countless success stories that come out of Stepping Stones and Undershaw schools every year shows the profound effect the work is having.

What am I taking away from this week?

In my week with COINS Foundation I have learnt so much about not only the Foundation itself and its partners but I have a much clearer understanding of how the working world works and what it is likely to be like for me if I end up in a job like this. This week can help me grasp a better understanding of what I want to do and whether office life is for me. The invaluable experience that I have gained will go a long way in laying out possible career paths. However, the biggest takeaway from this week is that I have been able to work with, as I’ve said, some of the most talented, hardworking people you are likely to find. In the future I will aspire to be like them and give it my all every single day I work because, as I have seen, with hard work comes great reward and I believe the ability to help and make a difference will drive people to do great things; this is exactly what has been showcased to me these past few days.

To close, I would like to send out a thank you to the team at Habitat for Humanity and COINS Foundation for taking me on and providing priceless experience that I couldn’t have received anywhere else, I also thank you for the tremendous work you are completing by helping so many others who aren’t as fortunate as us all. I leave feeling truly inspired!