My name is Karis Durrant and I am a year 10 student from King Alfred’s school, in Highbridge. I have completed my week of work experience at Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge town council. My week commenced on the 9th of March, and during the time I have spent here in the office, and working within the local community, I have learnt a lot of valuable information about the community in which I live. I have definitely experienced and had a great eye opener to the opportunities that the town council have to offer.  Before I started my week at the town council I was very anxious and nervous about my level of confidence with talking to new people and answering phone calls in the office environment.

During my time at the Town Council I have learnt how to use a variety of different machinery that is used on a day to day basis within the office; these items vary from a telephone to a franking machine. On my first day at the office I learnt about the health and safety regulations and the basics of what jobs you are required to do in the town council. I spent the day being supervised by Lorna, this was a good opportunity to experience the life of being in an office and the roles that each member of staff had. On that Monday evening at 6pm there was a town projects meeting in which all the councillors had to attend (unless they made their apologies). The meeting was held in the court room 1, where Beverley Milner Simmonds (town centere manager) reported her different projects, council members then either agreed or disagreed to Beverley’s arrangements. The meeting went on for over 1 hour and I helped to write down notes with Lorna to use as a guideline for the minutes, which Lorna and I wrote up on Thursday.

On the second day of my time at the Town council I spent the day being supervised by Beverley, during the day we headed up to Burnham’s Town centre, and we spent the morning delivering letters to the local business managers, after spending an hour or so doing this, we came back to the office,  Beverley had me doing a few tasks on the computer (internet based research).  The first job she asked me to do was to look up the emails for several nurseries around the Burnham and Highbridge area, after trying to reach the nurseries through the internet, Beverley asked me to ring the remaining  few nurseries that I couldn’t find the emails for, when Beverley asked me to do this, I was a little nervous and anxious because I’m not a comfortable speaker on the phone, however,  after I finished the task of calling the businesses, I become more relaxed on the phone and felt like I had overcome my previous anxieties. Afterwards I spent another hour or so finding mike the knight costumes for St. George’s day and then other bits and bobs such as small dragon toys all aimed for helping to plan the St. George’s day events.  Later that day at about 2pm a painter from Nottingham came down and we spent the rest of the afternoon in the town centre looking at shop shutters with the painter. That evening I met Beverley, the painter and a variety of shop owners at the Dunstan to talk about the shop shutter themes.

On the third day of my work experience I was supervised by Lorna and Jacqueline, the first half of the day I helped Lorna convert a Word document into a PDF file and then upload that file onto the Town councils website, after doing this I then opened the post and sorted them into invoices and other letters. This helped me gain a better idea of the types of jobs the town council deal with. At about 11am Jacqueline took me with her to the princess theatre where I helped her sort out the finances, this involved writing cheques, counting money (several times) and looking at what cheques were paid in by different companies/people. After we finished in the princess theatre we transferred the money into NatWest bank accounts, this took quite a while because there was a lot of paper work. once we finished in the bank me and Jacqueline drove back to the office, for the rest of the day I was working on the computer creating checklists for the jobs I had to do during the week of my work experience.  

On Thursday I created a poster for the Annual Towns’ Meeting which takes place on the 20th April 2015, the poster informs the public about the different groups that will be attending the meeting to talk about what their group is doing, due to my week at this work placement,  Courtney and I (another work experience student, that took her placement at the princess theatre)  have both agreed to do a talk about what our week has been like. After making the poster and proof reading it with Denise Emery (town clerk), I photocopied it 5 times and then laminated each one so that they are waterproof, and ready to be pinned onto the notice boards around Highbridge and Burnham. I then used a guillotine to cut out some signs and work certificates for a member of staff, during this I was supervised by Lorna so that I didn’t get anything trapped in the laminator (health and safety regulations). After finishing the tasks for Lorna, there were not many jobs I had left to do so I decided to do some filler tasks, this meant sorting out 3 piles of recycling papers, for example taking out staples and removing elastic bands so that the paper was able to be recycled without any problems.

On the last day of my week working at the town council, I helped Lorna prepare a planning agenda, which then I had too photocopy, then print out two sheets of labels which I made on the computer, after preparing these sheets I had to staple the planning agendas together, and place them in envelopes which I placed my readymade labels on .  After completing these tasks I spent an hour or so with Denise Emery, speaking to her about the role of the town clerk , and why she made the decision to take this job, and we talked about other jobs and roles that the council have. This was an educational conversation because I learnt a lot more about the town council, which helped me to understand different parts about the meeting I attended on Monday evening. After finishing talking to Denise, Courtney and Craig (assistant manager at the princess theatre) came to the office, when they arrived Lorna showed me and Courtney around the courtrooms, showing us photographs, and the history of the building, such as the old magistrates court. This was very interesting because I learnt about royal visitations, such as when the queen visited in 1953. Throughout the day Lorna took several photos of me and Courtney enjoying the experience of being in the courtroom.

Overall during my week of work experience, I have gained a lot more confidence and achieved a lot of skills I was not comfortable doing before attending the town council. It was a week full of experience, enjoyment and never ending education about my local community. I thank the town council lots for allowing me to spend my week with them, and allowing me to help them throughout the week, their time spent making sure I understood what they were telling me was very beneficial to my learning. I would definitely recommend next year’s work experience students to have an open mind about their work placement and consider the town council as an available option. Before Mrs. Lawrence (work experience co-ordinator at King Alfred’s school) recommended the town council, I would never have thought that I would have even learnt as much as I did whilst spending my week here, it has been a week full of experience and I am grateful to the council for allowing me to spend the week with them.

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