I’m Maggie, a BA Politics student at King’s College London, and I had the pleasure of interning at Eastside from February to June 2023 along with my coursemate Diya.
Diya and I are both involved in the Civic Leadership Academy programme at King’s College, through which we intern with a London charity, take leadership masterclasses, and participate in an away weekend. When the time came to apply for the charity partners we would be working for, I was immediately inspired by Eastside and knew I wanted to get involved. I’ve always loved theatre, and think that drama, creative writing and public speaking are some of the most important (and fun!) skills for young people to develop.
When I got started at Eastside, I was most excited about getting to see creative workshops in action, supporting the educational team, and learning how the charity develops its programmes. I certainly got all that and more! Some of my favourite memories from my time here I will treasure for a long time to come:
Diya and I were invited to help staff the Criterion Theatre regional sharing event for London, which represented the culmination of the second year of Eastside’s Spoken Word Power programme, themed The Places I’ll Go. For us staff, the day ran from 9am to 4pm, with spoken word performances by primary schools in the morning and secondary schools in the afternoon. I brought my flatmate, Harry, along with me to volunteer and we had an absolute blast all day! My job was to usher the kids from their seats to the backstage wings, giving them a little pep talk along the way. The kiddos each had team names, like the ‘Cupcake Team’ or ‘Bubblegum Friends Forever’, and I watched as everyone brought the house down with their incredible performances! That theatre was a whirl of choreography, powerful truths, laughter and enthusiastic support.
I got to help staff a second event in the Criterion Theatre, our April Foolery fundraising night, featuring comedians, spoken word, and a jazz orchestra. In case you don’t already know, every pound from April Foolery went to support the Lund Fund, an endowment with the goal of raising £1 million for life-changing creative opportunities for youth! That time I brought along a few more friends to help volunteer (thank you, Harry, Abi, Alex, Evelyn, Conor, and Hamir!), and we loved chatting with audience members about Eastside’s impact and watching a young person perform a beautiful spoken word piece that she created through the Spoken Word Power programme.
Along with Maddy and Fliss, our schools programmes team, I was able to visit (and participate in) several Artist in Residence workshops, through which children work with an artist to create a ‘festival’ featuring a particular art form– animation, poetry, drama, and more. The enthusiasm that the kids brought to the programme was infectious, and I confess to enjoying the improv games just as much as any of the Year Fours.
One final highlight has been writing an evaluation report for the second year of Spoken Word Power. While I’ve gotten to witness the impact of Eastside’s spoken word programme firsthand, it has been immensely satisfying to quantify that impact through analysing teacher and artist surveys, case studies, and the responses of young people. At a time when schools and young people are facing enormous challenges, Spoken Word Power provides an incredible opportunity for students to develop creative thinking skills, gain confidence performing, and collaborate with peers and teachers to express themselves. The positive feedback has been overwhelming from all sides and the programme’s impact is clearly long-lasting.
I look forward to following what Eastside does in the coming years and volunteering to help with future events. This organisation is truly incredible and the people who work here are one-of-a-kind– dedicated, brilliant, and passionate! I’m so grateful to Eastside for the opportunity to get involved with such meaningful work. I know that I will always want to keep creative education a part of my life!