Becky is a student at Stoke on Trent Sixth Form College and spent a busy week with Cox Bank Publishing, with a packed diary!
My week spent at Cox Bank Publishing has been exciting, memorable and an invaluable experience. I’ve been lucky to have landed a week with so many meetings and events, especially because the weather has been lovely so escaping the office for an hour was well appreciated by Peter and myself, and I have met a broad range of interesting people with much to offer.
On Monday I was greeted at the Dudson Centre, Hanley, by a very welcoming group of VAST staff members who have been helpful and approachable all week. My day began by being introduced to the Cox bank Publishing office and I was happy to be given some time to read through recently received Sporting Stories for the website. That gave me a very good insight into the kinds of inspirational stories I would be hearing and reading about all week, such as Andy Baggaley’s which I enjoyed reading very much. This has given me a much greater appreciation for sport considering dance has been my only ever link to the sporting community, as I lack the appropriate strength and stamina to be any other kind of athlete. I was also enthused to read through the ‘comic strips’ a primary school class had contributed illustrating their first lessons learning to do gymnastics. Some took a bit of translation but the fabulous drawings bought their enthusiasm for learning to life, which was exceptionally rewarding to witness.
Throughout the rest of the week we have been busy darting round to various meetings with people from the council, to primary schools, to local artists to a group of teenagers completing their National Citizenship volunteering qualification. One of the most memorable experiences, however, was the visit to the Karvan, a colourfully decorated caravan on the edge of the city. See more about the Karvan here.
It was lovely to meet Emma Dawson Varughese, who owns the vehicle and takes it around to various festivals and schools for people to explore literature. As an English Literature student myself, and hoping to study it at university next year, I found her method of teaching and dedication to the encouragement of reading particularly influential. Stepping into the Karvan was an experience in itself. The floor was covered in plastic grass and I was dazzled by the array of colours from the flags, walls, posters and cushions which represented many cultures and countries. Bells hung from the ceiling and there were exotic ornaments dotted around the room. It is easy to understand why she manages to capture attention and interest from all her visitors because it is so easy to become absorbed in such a beautiful place. I especially liked the Urdu and Arabic lettering when she explained it “lets people associate that culture and religion in a positive way” because of everything happening in the world right now, and particularly helps groups from ethnic minority backgrounds be in a comfortable place which unites all communities.
We discussed how the Karvan could have multipurpose in benefiting Cox Bank Publishing as well if we rented the space to be used at sporting events to encourage athletes to come and tell their stories.
Another useful meeting was with the local entrepreneur and artist, Andy Cooke, who we met to discuss a range of opportunities including creating the primary school comic strips I mentioned earlier into real life publications. As creative as the original drawings were, we thought they may need some neatening up by an artist to combine all the ideas and create an overview.
Halfway through the meeting we decided to visit his shop around the corner and explored the gallery space he owns on the first floor, with all walls covered in modern, urban art. He revealed the space was open for rental which produced another opportunity for Cox Bank Publishing as possibility for a launch venue for the next book or collect city centre sporting stories. Meetings like this held throughout the week showed to me how important it is to make links with people because there is no limit to the opportunities and possibilities it opens up.
Today, the final day, we met up again with the teenagers doing NCS. To complete the NCS programme, they need to do a week’s planning of a volunteering event followed by a week completing the volunteering activity which they worked in partnership with Stoke City Community Trust and Cox Bank Publishing. Their focus was on sporting within the community and have decided to go into places such as care homes, disability centres and every day sporting centres like Fenton manor to teach, coach and chat to the groups about sport through their lives. Through these interviews, they will be taking notes and providing the sporting stories to Cox Bank Publishing if the individual would like to share it with us, which can benefit the business by providing us with many more sporting stories to share and inspire, as well as giving the NCS group guidance with their project. Today was an example of that. We organised it as a practise run to give an insight as to what their activities next week may be like. For a part of this I held a mock interview with an employee from Go Outdoors, called Tom, which was good practise for myself to try a new skill and also benefited the group because they learnt how to take down brief notes from fast chunks of information.
Overall the week has been extremely rewarding and exciting. I have learnt how publishing works; how professional meetings can not only solve the situation at hand but lead you in many directions you may not have considered, as well as skills such as drafting emails, website page editing and how to lead a successful interview. I am very grateful for Peter Hooper for giving me the opportunity to work at Cox bank Publishing for the week and will definitely keep checking up on the website and keep in touch to watch this project excel as I’m sure it will do extremely well and keep on growing.