Swansea University student wins internship at Houses of Parliament

Nicola Woodward, a second year PhD student within the Centre for Innovative Ageing (CIA) at Swansea University's College of Human and Health Sciences is heading to the Houses of Parliament this February after being chosen for a prestigious ESRC internship.

The ESRC Student Internship scheme is a joint initiative designed to promote new approaches to tackle social problems so that public services can deliver better for less.  It offers current ESRC funded PhD award holders in full time study or part time equivalent the opportunity to undertake an internship lasting from one to six months within a public, private or civil society (voluntary) sector organisation.

Nicola is one of only two successful candidates selected for the Office for Civil Society – Centre for Social Action internship within the Government Innovation Group Cabinet Office at Westminster. The Centre for Social Action supports programmes that encourage people to create positive change through social action, defined as practical actions in the service of others, and including activities such as peer mentoring and support and high impact volunteering.

Nicola’s PhD is well-aligned with the project brief, focusing on changes in informal care and support for older adults.  She is studying under the ESRC programme of research Maintaining Function and Well Being: A Longitudinal Cohort Study (Cognitive Function and Ageing Study collaboration (CFAS) Wales). 

Nicola’s supervisor, Vanessa Burholt, Professor of Gerontology and Director of the Centre for Innovative Ageing made Nicola aware of the opportunity and drafted a letter to support her application. She said: “I am delighted that Nicola has been given the opportunity to gain experience of how the Government develops social policy. This will give her a real insight into the Whitehall corridors of power and be of great benefit to her in terms of developing innovative ways to translate her research evidence to have practical and effective impact on the older population.”

Nicola’s internship will begin on 3 February and last for six months.  During this time she will support the development and work of the Centre for Social Action at Westminster including: conducting research on the role of social action in the delivery of public services; using evidence to inform policy design; attending meetings and events relevant to the Centre and drafting ministerial correspondence and briefings.

Nicola said: “I have a keen interest in the use of evidence based research in the third sector and how research can be used to evaluate and improve services. I am also interested in how research can be used to inform policy and the way in which Whitehall and Government work. My time working in the Cabinet Office will therefore provide me with valuable insight into the workings of a government department. The internship will allow me to gain experience in this sector and will add to the skills and knowledge developed during my time spent as a PhD student.”