Transforming and Activating Places

A blog by Megan James, who undertook a student placement with RivelinCo in 2021 as part of the University of Sheffield’s Transforming and Activating Places project.

I have recently completed my Transforming and Activating internship at RivelinCo. Transforming and Activating Places is a University of Sheffield project funded by the Institute of Education which challenges the way that internships and graduate jobs are run. As a History and Politics student, I am interested in working with local communities and charities which is why I was matched with RivelinCo.  My internship has involved research using the archives in Sheffield for use in the new Age UK Sheffield Cafe when it opens next year. I have also conducted oral histories, taken part in Story Swap Cafés, planned and led a Community Heritage Activities Day and will be involved with the early stages of the planning of the community production in Hillsborough Park.

As a history student, the work that I have carried out relating to the oral histories has been very interesting and is something that I will definitely take forward after this internship.  As the new Age UK Sheffield café in the old coach house is going to be a focal point for the local community, it is important that the history represents the lives of those who have used and continue to use Hillsborough Park. The collection of stories at the Story Swap highlighted how significant the lives of local people are when creating and researching local history. The study of history at university is mainly focused on significant events or a vast time period so it has been very enjoyable to study a different type of history. Working with historian Tereza Ward, I have been able to explore the different uses of oral histories and have learnt how they make history more accessible and more inclusive for the public.

Throughout the TAP programme, we have focused on themes of place-making, accessibility and the importance of bringing the creative arts into community spaces. It has been amazing to see this process in reality with the creation of the dementia friendly café and the community arts centre in the new buildings. I have also particularly enjoyed exploring the links between dementia and creative arts as I have always been very passionate about creating an environment where people who live with dementia can get the most out of the environment that they are in.

Before my internship, I had never had the chance to visit Hillsborough as I am relatively new to the city of Sheffield and due to the Coronavirus lockdowns, but I have loved working in Hillsborough and can’t wait to see the Old Coach House when it is finished and the difference that it will make to Hillsborough Park.