A New Intern? You’ve Got To Be KIDding Me

Hello readers my name is Maya, and I’m a new face here at the Vauxhall City Farm (VCF).

My current past-times include playing football for my university women’s team, reading Lord of the Rings and trying out new recipes on my willing(?) housemates.

I’m a typical ‘Third Culture Kid’. My mother’s Malaysian, my father is English, and I grew up in 6 different countries. Moving from country to country has cultivated a curiosity for the world around me. This has fostered my drive to take action against injustice wherever I can.

Currently in my second year of university studying Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s College London. Living in Elephant and Castle, I am also a neighbour of Vauxhall City Farm. After feeling disheartened at the prospect of another year in lockdown, my luck changed when I was offered a place on the ‘Kings Civic Leadership Academy’.

Part of the leadership programme entails 14 weeks of internship at a charity and after interviewing with Natty at VCF, I knew that it was the place I wanted to be. Tom, Ben and Jerry (the alpacas) wandering around in the background of our Zoom meeting sold it to me.

Having written countless assignments around ‘social determinants of health’, working at VCF has allowed me to angle my research from a local perspective. Social determinants of health go beyond the medical causes of disease, taking into account factors such as education, economic stability, neighbourhood environment and social contexts. This aims to provide wide-reaching and sustainable solutions for preventing/treating disease.

The hard work put into services offered by the farm for the last 44 years greatly contributes to improving Lambeth community’s health. Not only does VCF enhance the local neighbourhood and improve community cohesion with a broad range of activities, but also provides a unique setting for nature-based education.

The farm encourages outdoor learning for all ages: Holiday clubs for young children, animal handling experience for young adults and plenty others for adults too. Research shows that contact with nature facilitates cooperative teamwork, imagination, resilience, stress relief and building a sense of identity [1].

It’s no secret that nature-based education improves how we feel. The pandemic has deteriorated mental health, widening inequalities across London [2]. After a tough year, it’s vital to support communities in the challenges they face due to the pandemic, which is why small charities such as VCF are crucial.

Tired of spending months sitting at my desk watching lectures, my internship at the farm every Tuesday is the highlight of my week. I have something to look forward to, connecting me to nature. This experience has made me an advocate for nature-based education.

I am overjoyed at the prospect of VCF reopening, looking forward to the rest of my internship and hope to see many of your faces (in person) soon!

[1] Mann, J. et al. (2021) A Systematic Review Protocol to Identify the Key Benefits and Efficacy of Nature-Based Learning in Outdoor Educational Settings. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/3/1199 (Accessed 24 February 2021).

[2] Blundell, R. et al. (2020) COVID-19 and Inequalities. Fiscal Studies. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1475-5890.12232 (Accessed 26 February 2021).

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