Everyone has a skill or life experience that can be shared with others
This week’s blog posts are brought to you by volunteers who are supporting local play projects involved in the Free Time Consortium’s ‘Get Involved in Play’ programme funded by the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund. We want to celebrate the amazing work done by the volunteers – children, parents and grandparents – who Love Outdoor Play. And, as this week is National Volunteer’s Week, what better opportunity to showcase their efforts and to say thank you. We hope you enjoy their stories and they motivate you to get involved in your local play project and support Love Outdoor Play!
An interview with Sharon Fortune.
Where do you volunteer?
Hart Hill Adventure Playground, Luton.
When did you begin volunteering?
Two years ago.
On average how many hours per month do you volunteer?
I started volunteering 10 hours per week.
Is it usually during the day, evening or on the weekend?
All times of the day and week.
Are you also employed, do you have an additional job? If Yes what?
When I first started volunteering I was a family support worker and an Early Years Practitioner.
What does your volunteer role consist of?
When I started off as a volunteer, it was mainly working alongside the young people and children, supporting events and trying to engage the community in supporting and enjoying the setting.
What influenced you to volunteer in the first instance?
I popped in to see where my two younger children where hanging about and simply fell in love with it. I could see the potential for the setting (it was very new and didn’t have much personality), but it could bring the community in. I had a feeling that it could be so much more than an adventure playground ,that it could be a safe haven, become the heart of the estate and bring a sense of stability to children and young people. I could feel that this could change children’s lives but I did not know at the time how this would happen.
What do you enjoy the most about your volunteering role?
Being able to give something back to the community, I have six children who have all taken from the community. Being local I know lots of the families that come, and know when the children need extra support because they are facing challenges in their lives. It also keeps me physically fit and mentally on my toes!
What skills/ qualification’s have you gained from volunteering?
I have just completed my Playwork Level Three, paediatric first aid training, autism awareness and self build training.
How would you describe the atmosphere where you volunteer?
Hectic, challenging, fun , happy, exhilarating, exhausting and hopeful!
In what way has your volunteering helped the playground and/or improved nature play opportunities for children and young people?
I would like to think that my passion/ belief has brought new young people and children to the setting to experience a positive play experience. People that know me are happy to pass on donations through me and several people have also become volunteers through knowing me. If I can do it, anyone can!
Would you recommend volunteering in play to others and why?
Yes most certainly. First of all it keeps you young! It also gives you a sense of belonging and I believe that everyone has a skill or life experience that can be shared with others.
What has been the highlight of your volunteering?
Where do I start when there are so many? Completing my Playwork Level Three qualification was a personal highlight. Getting to see the children develop socially in so many ways, but the main thing is watching them be children.
On average, how many children do you work with on a daily basis?
From two to fifty.
Are there any other comments that you would like to make?
I no longer volunteer as I am now a senior play worker after a complete career change due to volunteering. I have not lost any of my passion but getting others to see the benefits and rewards of playing is sometimes challenging. Volunteering with support, has helped me to take risks and face challenges that I would otherwise not have done. It has also given me a chance to reflect on my own play experiences. I honestly believed that I didn’t play as a child. How wrong was I!? On the whole I feel that volunteering has made me a better person, a better parent and a better, hands on grandparent.
Sharon Fortune volunteers for Hart Hill Adventure Playground.