Autumn becomes the 'Pride of Oxfordshire' on her Cultural Learning and Participation apprenticeship

Autumn Walsh joined Oxfordshire County Council in September 2020 as a Cultural Learning and Participation apprentice. Although the world was in the middle of a pandemic, and working from home had become the new norm, Autumn got stuck in straight away, making an instant impression on her colleagues and her NCCI Industry Practitioner, and having a significant impact on the wider business. 

Autumn’s role involves working with children in care and those leaving care and she is heavily involved in coordinating the Children in Care Council.

Autumn’s manager, James Collins. said, “Autumn came in with ‘fresh eyes’ and took an overall view of what we were doing, why we were doing it and wanted to finish off pieces of work which had been outstanding.

“Autumn has been brilliant in implementing new ways of working for the business; It was so refreshing that Autumn, seeing how much pressure comes with the job, said “Stop - let’s do one thing at a time, do it well and finish it.”. This happened with one piece of work in particular that seemed stuck and, with this new way of working, the task was completed.”

Working with young people has been a passion of Autumn’s, having worked in a similar sector prior to Oxfordshire County Council. She said:

“Before my current role I was in another apprenticeship as a Project Support Officer doing Level 2 Business Administration. This role included working with care-experienced young people and led to me wanting to work with them more closely. 

“When I came across this role I had to take the opportunity as it meant I could move into the career I wanted, challenge myself and personally develop. This role allows me to exercise ideas around activities, groups and logistics. 

“I have been able to take ownership of a few mini projects with my colleagues’ support which leaves me feeling trusted and responsible. 

“Creating relationships with young people has been one of the highlights of my role as it’s very rewarding. Being in an apprenticeship that encourages you to be creative has many benefits and allows me to facilitate activities such as story-telling and arts with young people.”

Working in such a sensitive area, Autumn has approached her tasks and projects with empathy and consideration. One of her most notable projects was the set up of a ‘get to know you’ monthly meeting, so children and young people could get to know the team with the aim of easing anxieties. 

Autumn is a firm believer in apprenticeships and that they are the way forward. She most enjoys getting to learn whilst working on the job; creating relationships and gaining more hands-on experience.

In October, Autumn won the ‘Pride of Oxfordshire’ award at the ‘Oxfordshire Youth Awards’. 

“On the back of this I was asked to go on Oxford Radio and briefly talk about why I got the award; this then led to me being asked to have an interview with Fleur Ostojack on her show. I had never been on the radio before and was so excited and grateful for the opportunity. 

“The following week Fleur contacted me again and asked if she could record our conversation (I didn’t know what it was going to be about) and I agreed. Fleur asked me to join her on the radio the following Friday to interview Jacqueline Wilson. Jaqueline Wilson is my childhood hero and helped me a massive amount, through her books, when I was growing up. 

“This truly was a dream come true! I asked her a few questions, to which she gave really good answers, and towards the end she said in the next few years if she writes a book and there is a character who has my qualities she will name the character Autumn, after me. I was trying so hard to stay modest but I was very much fan-girling!’

Autumn Walsh