I've looked around on a lot of sites for summer work experience this year. I've emailed quite a few places and recieved minimal responses. I really,really, really want some work experience in the science sector, even if it is hospital work or whatever!
Has anyone had this problem before and managed to overcome it
It's very difficult in your first year. Best bet is to send a nice email or go and talk to a lecturer directly. If possible, do a bit of background on what kind of research they carry out so you can be enthusiastic about it. Then ask if they take on any first year students to help them out over the summer. Might not be successful but it's worth a shot, and even if it doesn't work this year if you ask again next year they may remember you.
Your lecturers are usually the best ones to talk to. The southeast is a biotech powerhouse but probably not so much in hertfordshire. If you can commute to London, Cambridge, Oxford or Norwich (surprisingly strong for genetics/ bioinformatics/ plant biology/ env sciences) then obviously the opportunities become somewhat better.
Don't knock hospital work btw. For the most part it's the same procedures though you should really have your hep b vac for work there as you won't be allowed to work on human tissue samples without.