7 April 2022
Students at the Heart of Knowledge Exchange (SHoKE) has many opportunities for all students to make a personal impact by tackling a real social issue. You can practice key skills such as team-work, project management, problem solving, public speaking and many more. In this blog, ARU student Stephen Sarfo, writes of his experience working on projects that make a difference…
I believe that an opportunity to learn is an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to grow is an opportunity to make an impact. SHoKE has got you covered if you want to learn, grow, and make social impact.
I have been lucky enough to take part in SHoKE Student Consult projects that have offered me the chance to work collaboratively in a multidisciplinary group and build my leadership, consulting skills, self-confidence and stakeholder management skills. An experience from SHoKE is worth its weight in gold.
Local Government Project
Working as a team leader, my first project focused on identifying key areas for alignment and reform across Cambridgeshire's public sector strategy. The team identified and analysed current strategic plans and aspirations of the council and narrowed them down to three key strategies that the council could seize as opportunities to align their resources. We also proposed an operational model to support the delivery of the strategies. Our findings were presented to Cambridgeshire County Council Policy, Design and Delivery team as well as representatives from ARU and other councils within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. The service team members and representatives were very happy with our findings. This project offered me an understanding of local government structures and opened me up to networking with team members and key stakeholders from Cambridgeshire County Council. I am glad the connection still exists even after the project.
Public Services Project
I was then given the opportunity to work on another project as Team Leader, this time with Essex Police and Essex County Council. The brief was to create an education awareness campaign in the university environment around cultural difference with regards to the safety of women and girls. This project had stakeholder engagement which included ARU academic mentors, Essex Police, Essex County Council and the SHoKE management team. Insight and guidance from the stakeholders was very useful and it helped the team refined our ideas, scope, and potential risk of the project. The team proposed an educational awareness campaign model to the stakeholders, and they were pleased with our findings. This has started an ongoing conversation to implement our recommendations in ARU.
SHoKE has offered myself and other students the chance to be innovative and creative through the exchange of knowledge between academics and external organisations. It has made me socially responsible by proposing solutions to solve societal problems. Experience from SHoKE has also helped boost my CV and build my business and commercial awareness, intercultural skills, critical thinking, problem solving skills, project, and self-management skills. And I am glad to share that I have now secured a graduate job as a Technical Planning Assistant with Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council.
SHoKE is an opportunity not to be missed. The management team is very friendly and offer all the support and mentorship needed for the project. I encourage all ARU students to grab this opportunity without hesitation. It will grow your skillset, competence, experience and above all you will engage in a real-life social issue.
I am currently looking forward to replicating this idea in Africa. Thanks to the SHoKE management team, ARU, all external organisations, and my lovely team members.
Inspired to get involved?
We want you! Bring your unique perspective to tackle real social problems with SHoKE.
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By Stephen Sarfo, MSc Town Planning
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