How data inputting and conforming to changing NHS guidelines meant I could help keep grassroots football going

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Grace Etheredge talks about volunteering in data science to support her law degree

Leckhampton Rovers Football Club is a grassroots football club for children aged 5 – 18 and adults. The Club has over 30 teams, each with over 11 members. During the pandemic I took on the responsibility of ensuring data collection adhered to new Covid-19 rules.

I set up a system to manage the submission of each team’s attendance and sanitation data, in line with Government and NHS Guidance. This information was gathered so that, in the event of a Covid case being reported, teams would be able to identify possible contacts and seek medical advice.

I kept up to date with the changes in Government guidance on Covid and managed the designated email address for such submissions, logging the information on a spreadsheet, in accordance with GDPR.

In the event of a Covid case being reported, I would correspond with coaches and parents to inform them of the Government guidance, explore possible responses, and point them in the direction of medical help or equipment.

My volunteering directly assisted the organisation as it meant that the Club’s trustees and coaches could resume their roles, safe in the knowledge that I was monitoring their compliance with FA and Government guidelines.

This had a crucial impact on the Club as it meant that the coaches had a clear and centralised contact for any Covid-related issue, they could concentrate on playing football, and the hundreds of children could return to their training sessions and matches. This was especially important when restrictions meant that organised sport was the only sport some children could engage in.

The skills I have developed assist me in my work as a law student. This is because of the continued importance of self-discipline and attention to detail.I improved my time management skills as I balanced these responsibilities alongside my university work and other extra-curricular commitments. I developed the confidence to email coaches and inform them that they needed to get better at complying with the Club’s procedures. The experience has been particularly useful in my developing career as a barrister when communication, time management and self-motivation are key.

When I received a call from a coach regarding a Covid-contact, I learnt to remain calm under pressure, ask questions to ascertain the key information, and draw upon the most relevant Government guidance. I became adept at typing this up in a succinct way and highlighting the crucial sources.

Grassroots football is very important to my family and community, and it was very rewarding to be able to support its revival throughout the pandemic.

I want to make women feel empowered, to let them know they aren’t alone

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Law and Criminology student has used her volunteering experiences to help direct her career pathway

I work part time and study Law with Criminology at UWE, but I make the time to commit 1 day a week to supporting and helping victims of sexual abuse. For 2.5 hours once a week, I volunteer on a helpline.

Survivors of sexual abuse, recent or historic, call the helpline and talk to me for up to 40 minutes. The reasons for the call hugely vary. The majority of the calls I handle are offering survivors who are currently struggling some emotional support, such as talking about what has happened to them. Many of them have never spoke about it to anyone before. I talk about their feelings, and together we find ways they can cope.

I help survivors who are confused about what’s happened to them, advising survivors of recent sexual abuse on what to do, referring people and taking their details for counselling and safeguarding survivors who may be in danger, both from themselves and people they may be around.

There are 2 types of outgoing calls. Some are just returning missed calls from when the helpline was closed. Others are scheduled every 3 weeks for those who need that extra emotional support.

Volunteering for SARSAS (Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support) means they have 1 extra person who can take calls, meaning together we can support those extra few people. The impact on the community is huge. Survivors feel that they can talk about what happened with someone and they can get advice. They also feel believed and not alone. Several calls have even ended with the survivor feeling empowered and wanting to make their own difference.

This is totally new for me. I never thought I’d be able to listen to some of the things that are spoke about on the helpline, let alone support and offer advice to it. I’ve gained so much confidence since starting the helpline. I feel that if I can talk to the brave people I talk to and they feel they can talk to me about what has happened to them, then I can tackle pretty much anything.

It’s boosted my listening/communication skills more than any other experience ever could. I’ve learnt lots since volunteering, including how to support survivors, how to safeguard and what to do if they have been recently sexually abused eg. where to go for evidence, how police reporting works. But I’ve also learnt other things I never thought I would: its gave me the ability to look out for the little things and have a great eye for detail, amazing confidence and communication skills. Since volunteering, I’ve began leaning towards the career path of victim support. It’s nothing I’d ever thought I’d be able to do before – I didn’t have the confidence in myself and think I’d be able to do it, but I can.

From Community Garden Volunteer to Leading Science Communication

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Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science student, Maisie Deaton helped to create a community greenspace previously scheduled for a housing development

Transition Town Wellington is part of the transition network, an international environmental movement of local people volunteering to improve sustainability, wildlife, climate change and waste in their town.

I volunteered with them with the aim to help with community gardening and attend meetings but I soon became directly involved in a new project – creation of a forest garden and community greenspace, previously meant for housing development.

I became one of the leaders for science communication by analysing public data and survey responses. This meta analysis from over 250 public inputs aided the project leads to understand the thoughts and opinions of the town. I then produced graphics to present to the public during consultations. Furthermore, I kickstarted their Instagram account, developing their social media platforms to engage more of the community – especially the younger generation.

I believe my presence was useful to their team due to my age difference, (majority were of the older generation). My input provided encouragement that their service was impacting more of the community from all backgrounds, as well as inspiring other young people to take part. Development of an Instagram account also meant their aims could be presented through a more digital, photographic way.

Image of a small shop front with the words Indepependent, local, sustainable and a map of the area

My placement was cancelled due to COVID-19 and I had to live at home for a year before returning to my final year of study. Additionally, I had recently moved to Wellington and started working with this organisation only two months after moving to a completely new place (originally lived in Shropshire). I wanted to gain experience and get to know people in this new area.

Since volunteering with this organisation, I have become a lot more interested in the importance of science communication and working with local people. Aside from their main project, many small community gardening sessions took place where I gained many skills in gardening and land management – learning about plant species and soil which directly relates to my course at UWE: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science.

I made mini wildlife films to grow their YouTube channel. One of the Transition Town elements is to allow local people to develop skills and engage with the community. I edited my first wildlife film and gained experience in photography while sharing my work online for people to enjoy and learn from.
I would definitely continue volunteering if/when I return to Wellington (Somerset). Alternatively, there are many other similar organisations and opportunities within the local community that I’m now more open to take part in.

Irrespective of my fears living in a new place I volunteered to not only enhance my passions surrounding sustainability and conservation, but to help the community and break generational boundaries by connecting with people of all backgrounds, no matter our age or skill level.

This volunteering has actually helped me gain another volunteering project I recently got confirmed in South Africa. I will be volunteering as an ecological research assistant to gain work experience and help this small conservation organisation there.

As a mother I wanted to thank the NHS with my actions, rather than my words

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Veronika Dutfield-Valeckova, Biomedical Science Student, wanted to thank the NHS through volunteering and has surpassed her won expectations

I felt that as a mother of 2 children with extensive needs, this was my opportunity to give back to our wonderful NHS. My two children have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). I’ve been so privileged to be able to access NHS support, it was important to me to be able to thank with my actions, rather than my words. So many people have become isolated or bereaved during the past 2 years, and often they’ve had no other human contact than with me and my colleagues from the Royal Voluntary Service. For some it has become a lifeline and a connection to the outside world, and I feel pride as well as feeling privileged to have been allowed to make someone else smile. 

First Aid Response 

I’ve logged over 1000 hours since March 2020. I am available to respond to an emergency by the service users, and oftentimes get to a patient before the emergency services. As I am CPR and defibrillator trained, as well as carrying Pulse Oxymeter, I can monitor patients vital signs and administer CPR, if the situation requires it. I feel that at times, the emergency response has been vital for both patients as well as the services, given how stretched the emergency services are. I was able to provide a little bit of comfort to patients waiting for medically trained staff, whilst ensuring patients were safe. 

Community Support 

I’ve been driving vulnerable patients to and from medical appointments as well as collecting prescriptions, food shopping and dog walking for those who can’t leave the house. At my local health centre I’ve been helping with admin duties and making welfare checks by phone with vulnerable adults as well as patient monitoring during the vaccination programme delivery.  

Friendship 

Volunteering has allowed me to form new friendships, be it with the service users or my colleagues. I’ve been able to establish a support network that stretches further than the realms of my immediate community, which I’ve felt has played an intrinsic part in the success of the service delivery and service users experience. It has brought the wider community closer and with some patients, it has restored their faith in humanity and kindness, when they’ve felt like there was none. I have been incredibly privileged to play a part of a wonderful team who give up their spare time to others, and this has been such a wonderful experience that has helped my mental health and confidence like nothing else could have done. 

Learning 

I’ve learnt how to calm a distressed patient. I’ve learnt to communicate at many different levels due to patients’ different requirements and capabilities. I was able to build a strong foundation for trusting my instincts and judgement when arriving at the scene of an emergency. I’ve learnt just how powerful the ability to listen is, and how much of a difference it makes to the person who’s being listened to.  

Looking Forward 

I am still volunteering with the service, and on top of that, I have set up a community hub that feeds into a national volunteering group called The Golden Hearted UK. This hub provides crisis food parcels to people whilst they await approval for food bank access. This has proved to be an invaluable service to many. My close friend and I fundraise to provide the emergency food parcels. We are currently in the process of applying for a charity status, as we both feel, this would give us the opportunity to access more community grants, which would allow us to reach more people in desperate need. 

My passion is to advocate for equality amongst the turmoil of displacement and trauma

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Beth Richardson talks about how being a Mother Companion has supported her degree to become a Midwife

I volunteered to be alongside pregnant women from different backgrounds with challenging situations, to bring skills from midwifery training to the support role but also to learn from their experience and what is needed to be able to provide culturally safe and appropriate perinatal care.

I take the role of a Mother Companion which provides dedicated support and nurturing of a woman or birthing person from any stage in pregnancy, throughout labour and childbirth and for the first 8 weeks of parenthood to help them adapt to their new role.

How I support the charity

The women and families we support are of migrant, refugee or asylum seeker status who do not have birth support or community around them. As a mother companion I provide:

Emotional Support: Space to un-pack ideas, concerns and wishes. Listening, giving encouragement, reassurance, and being a consistent physical & nurturing presence.

Physical Support: Helping with comfort measures, breath work, massage, relaxation, and guidance with infant feeding & settling.

Information Support: Sharing information, explanations and non-medical advice, guidance on NHS care, and signposting to partner agencies.

Advocacy: Facilitating communication between the people we support and care providers so that they can make informed choices. Discussing rights & entitlements in pregnancy.

Where relevant, support for a Mother’s Partner: Offering encouragement, reassurance & guidance on how to support the mother, their infant and themselves.

How volunteering has helped my career

I have been working with small teams of doullas and midwives in a capacity that holds space as a professional friend which, being different from the more clinical and investigatory role of a midwife, provides greater insights into making connections with women and families from all different cultures and backgrounds. It is incredibly inspiring.

I am building knowledge of different cultural practices and ways of being, as well as this I am building different communication skills. There is often a language barrier so learning to trust in facial expressions and body movements and showing care and compassion in this way has been great and I feel I make a deep connection with those I work with.

I am continuing to volunteer with Project Mama ongoing, taking part in training days and will do my specialist placement with them too. I plan to take my midwifery work into a global setting in the future and hope to transfer my skills to working with pregnant women in crisis situations.

I am passionate about seeing and being a part of change in the world we live in. 

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Victoria Alexander, Psychology student, talks about her change making journey

In my role at Caring in Bristol, I cooked and prepared meals to be sent out to homeless people around Bristol. We would generally spend the day preparing about 200/300 meals, made out of food that had been donated – it was great because it meant that we were also utilising food that would have otherwise been wasted. It was nice to know these meals were going out to people who really needed them, and the environment was being helped too!  

I also volunteered in the evening to be a delivery driver. We would drive to various hostels and hotels, and temporary accommodation – where people had been rehomed due to the pandemic, around Bristol. Part of my duties was to sort through donations, including food and clothing and maintain hygiene standards by keeping the warehouse clean.  

Caring in Bristol was absolutely great to volunteer for. There were trained chefs inhouse, but the volunteers were needed due to the quantity being made. it was a challenge but I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt some new cookery skills from the chefs that were running the kitchen. The aid of volunteers also meant that other people in the company could spend their time helping the service users, by ensuring they were able to access other support such as financial advice. This was crucial during the worst of the pandemic, as so many people were loosing their rental homes and Caring in Bristol offered amazing support and advice on what people were entitled to. Whenever I engaged with the service users, everyone seemed so grateful. 

Caring in Bristol logo, a white handprint with the silhouette of a heart

I had just moved to Bristol so it was nice to be part of something in my new community. I didn’t know many people and I felt completely isolated during this time. This was made harder with universities being online and the general lock downs that we kept moving in and out of. Even being part of the volunteer group and meeting people that way meant so much to me. Helping out at Caring in Bristol meant I met a few people that I am still good friends with now! Also, going out in the vans really helped me to get to know Bristol and find my way around a lot better 

Caring in Bristol is a really excellent charity, and a really brilliant one to volunteer with too. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, and it was nice to be surrounded with people who wanted to see the same change as me and I learnt about many more organisations that do amazing things around the city. 

I went on to volunteer with Fare Share – the team there are all welcoming and appreciative. I am passionate about food being accessible for all and this gave me a really good insight into how we can make this happen and has given me some ideas for my career. It’s so good to see different organisations and see how they are helping socially, but it’s also nice to be a part of something that on an environmental level, helps with food waste, too!  

I was also working as a support worker and noted that much of the diet for service users was sugar and pre-made food that isn’t really that healthy – I’d love to combine the skills I have learnt from Caring in Bristol, my support work and Fare Share – where I am currently volunteering, to set something up once I have finished my degree in Psychology. I now want to develop my understanding of the links between nutrition and mental health as I feel that this issue is often ignored as well as the social problems surrounding this. 

Volunteering with Book Explorers

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Zainab, BA (Hons) Media Production, tells us about the benefits of volunteering with Book Explorers and interviews a UWE student who volunteered on the project.

Book Explorers are UWE volunteers who support school children with their reading.

Love to read?

When you see the word “Book”, what pops into your mind? I personally love reading and whenever I hear anyone mention books, I just join their conversation whether I know them personally or not. Books have a special way to connect people and make them enter their own world, their own reality. Now let’s say you love kids. I mean who doesn’t love them right? They’re cute, adorable, sometimes unbearable, but that’s beside the point. Imagine their small hands trying to hold a pencil and how adorable they would look.

If you love volunteering, children, or books then I recommend that you continue to read this article till the end. If you have no interest in either but you’re a UWE student, then I would recommend you continue this article too!

Future Quest and UWE Volunteering

UWE Volunteering partnered with Future Quest to create a new volunteering project called Book Explorers. Future Quest helps children from local schools to keep their options about university open, sometimes with help from UWE students!

Why Volunteer?

Volunteering. A chance to improve your CV? Something you could do to engage more with people and learn new things? Or just something you would like to take part in because, why not?

There are many volunteering groups you can join whether they are related to your degree or not. Take up volunteering for fun! If you are a person who is interested in meeting more people and expanding their social circle, then volunteering is a great way to meet new people from different cultural backgrounds.

Interview with a UWE Book Explorer

I spoke with Femi, a MSC Business Management student to learn about her experience of volunteering with Book Explorers. A mother and UWE student, Femi became a Book Explorer in March 2022. Let us learn about her journey and how she helped broaden and shape the minds of young students.

How was your experience volunteering with Future Quest and Book Explorers?

“I had a good experience. They trained me really well on how to help the children. First week was hard but the staff helped me and it got better in 2-3 weeks. My main aim was that children should be enjoying what they’re doing and I was happy to see that I reached my aim.”

Were your expectations met?

“Yes, I didn’t think they would be paying for my bus fair as it was volunteering, but they paid them and made sure that my volunteering time was more adaptive and comfortable for me as I had to take care of my daughter too.”

Would you recommend Book Explorers to UWE Students?

“Yes definitely, volunteering helps you to gain experience, but it also has to be something you like to do and has your interest. Book Explorers is great if you like to play and have fun with children.”

Femi volunteering on the Book Explorers Project.

How can I volunteer?

If you think volunteering isn’t for you, let the UWE volunteering team change that! There are plenty of opportunities available and I am sure you won’t be disappointed once you see what’s out there.

If you are interested in volunteering with Book Explorers, you can complete an Expression of Interest form. Alternatively you can search for lots of different volunteering roles on Info Hub.

How I used my placement year to improve my confidence

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Déborah Cardoso Ribas, a Creative and Professional Writing student, shares her experience working in the UWE Careers and Enterprise department

I came to UWE Bristol to pursue my passion for writing after leaving a Chemical Engineering degree at Edinburgh University. Breaking the mould of studying a subject that would give me a profession, to studying a subject that I am passionate about and can make a career of, was a bold but scary choice. Not at all popular within my family. I thought that doing a placement would validate my decision and help me understand what to do after graduating.

With a vocational degree like mine, there is no set career path. I have an array of skills that enable me to work in more creative settings, such as publishing. And equally are an asset in corporate areas like marketing and social media.

Having engaged before with the Student Ventures (Enterprise) team to develop a business to support beginner fiction writers, I knew I could be an entrepreneur. Still, I lacked the confidence to do it full-time. Therefore, I also wanted to use my placement year to make an informed decision. So, when I saw on Instagram that the Student Ventures team was recruiting, I did not hesitate and applied!

Application and Duties

The whole process was very smooth. The first stage was to fill in an application, describing my skills based on the job requirements. I was not asked to provide a cover letter or a CV, to which I was grateful as I didn’t have relevant work experience at the time. As part of the interview, I presented the resolution to a social media question and did an in-tray exercise.

To prepare, I used the UWE Careers Toolkit and booked a one-to-one appointment with a Careers Coach who advised me to use the STAR technique – very useful to answer competency-based questions in a story format.

A team of 5 professionals, smiling with their arms around each other
Student Ventures Team: Megan Griffins, Lewis Nicholson, Callum Usher-Dodd, Gabi Cox and Déborah Cardoso Ribas

I was offered the job on the same day as the interview, and a month later, in September, I started my role. Initially, I worked from home due to COVID, completing most of the training and induction online.

When the academic year began, I started working on campus in a split role between Careers and Student Ventures.  Overall, I had three main tasks besides managing and creating content for their social media channels:

  1. Frenchay Careers front desk, eight hours per week. I dealt with queries from students and supported the coaches with their appointments. I gained valuable experience in customer service and CV building. And I became more confident showcasing my skills both in a written and oral format.
  2. Bower Ashton Careers Team support, once a week. I promoted the services and supported finding job opportunities for ACE students. I learned about labour marketing information and strengthened my Microsoft Office IT skills.
  3. Student Ventures. I supported the team to deliver workshops and events, manage the inbox, and developed a personal project of my choice – a Brand Bible. I used my copywriting and scriptwriting skills to develop the Brand Bible, a document entailing key information about the service and how to best represent it internally and externally. I also increased my knowledge of independent businesses, mentoring and coaching.

I was surprised how much freedom I was given in the Student Ventures team; I remember being asked what I wanted to do: talk to students, work in the background, create content, deliver workshops… And I kind of did it all. Once I had done my day-to-day tasks, I was free to experiment and explore new ways of engaging our community or pitch an idea to my colleagues. And even though I was “just” a placement student, I felt extremely valued and that what I was doing was important.

Learning Opportunities

My line manager, Gabi Cox, encouraged me to pursue my personal interests, which led me to seek training in Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI). I became an EDI champion, engaging my team in conversations about the topic and actively promoting and communicating EDI initiatives.  

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone by delivering a talk to the Team Entrepreneurship cohort about Storytelling in Business: how to translate stories into copy that connects with audiences. I am now in the process of submitting a proposal to deliver a package of talks in the next academic year about Creativity in Business.

When working within Careers & Enterprise, you quickly understand the importance of planning and setting up objectives to achieve your short and long-term career goals. This year gave me the reassurance that I made the right decision by coming to UWE to study Creative and Professional Writing. Today, I feel more confident in my skills and the professional I am becoming. And although I am not sure yet if I will be a full-time entrepreneur after third year, I know which steps to take to start earning an income from my writing.

If you are considering doing a placement, I say go for it! Grab every opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and explore the possibilities. Most importantly, ask for help, do not be ashamed if you encounter challenges. It can get tough at times. It’s not easy to balance work commitments and course-related activities. But once you overcome the obstacles and reflect on all your achievements, you will be very proud of yourself.

United Nation Sustainable Development Goal 8. Decent work and economic growth

How volunteering at Bristol Drug Project helped me choose a new career path

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Lainie-Jayne Smith, Criminology BA (Hons)

My reasons for volunteering

After finishing my second year, I became aware of how valuable my time is and started to realise how much I needed to take advantage of summer break. I also wanted to get an in-depth, hands-on understanding of roles that were available in my area. 

How I got involved

Once I started looking, there were roles everywhere. Social media was one of the biggest platforms for volunteering advertisements. I searched keywords such as “young people”, “volunteering”, “vulnerable people” and I was presented with a variety of roles. Each application process was similar, I had to fill out some information about me, hobbies, experiences, etc. Once I heard back, I would go to an interview and started my role at soon after! 

My role at Bristol Drug Project

At Bristol Drug Project, I worked with children that came from families whose parents had addiction problems and required interventions within their homes. Once a week, I would collect the children on a bus from all around Bristol, and then we would play games, have open conversations, eat together and overall make sure they were happy and content. We offer a safe space for children to express themselves when things are a struggle at home, this also gave the parents some personal time too. The aim is to create a happier environment within the home, so all parties can be happy and content.  

What I have learnt

It helped me realise, after speaking with experienced people that work with vulnerable young people, that there are so many routes to take and so many different careers to explore. I found that maybe the industry isn’t how I thought it was, I found that in certain positions the amount of help you can give is limited. This was a struggle for me but also led me to understand that supporting individuals at any stage of their life is important and essential. So, this has led to my new career choice of hopefully getting into probation work which is something I hadn’t thought about before. 

It has dramatically aided my confidence, interview skills and has given me a lot of experience that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t spend my summer with this organisation!

Just offering my help one day a week, I feel like I have made such a difference for the children I worked with. I also got to understand and appreciate the young people. Listening to them and applying this to my module helped me to develop a deeper understanding of what exactly youth face in this day and age. It really got me thinking about what could be done to ensure stability in their lives. 

My top tips

My advice to a volunteer would be don’t be too specific, and don’t limit yourself to one role. There are so many roles out there, with organisations willing and waiting – you can set your availability, find groups and organisations that are flexible, and this way you can delve into a variety of roles.  

In terms of your application write everything down on a document and refer back to this when filling them out. This way you don’t waste time repeating yourself. Also, I found that some organisations want to get to know you! It doesn’t need to be overly formal, express yourselves in your applications… you never know where you could end up! 

Most importantly, remind yourself you are there by choice, even if it’s 1 hour out of your day, you are making a difference no matter what role you are in – and that in itself is priceless. 

My life changing volunteering at St Werburgh’s City Farm

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Jasmine Tidswell talks about her journey to studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science at UWE Bristol

This volunteering experience was life changing for me for a number of reasons.

I moved to Bristol from London in June 2020 just after the first national lockdown to enrol in the Environmental Science Access course at City of Bristol College. My plan was to go on to study Conservation and Ecology at UWE which I am now doing.

Moving to a new city amidst a global pandemic with social gathering very restricted left me feeling isolated and unsure how to find a sense of community in an unfamiliar place. Volunteering at the farm and being welcomed into their vast and diverse community helped me find a sense of belonging.

During my volunteering period, I had a mentor, a member of staff who directed and assisted me in my tasks, he was also very focused on my personal wellbeing and helped to support me through a very difficult time as I lost two friends to suicide in January 2021, without this space to talk freely, work with my hands and benefit from the peaceful nature at the site I would not have coped as well as I did. 

I spent four hours every week helping with various jobs around the farm from labour intensive tasks, such as mucking out the animals, to organisational tasks, like ensuring that wheelchair users had good access around the site.

It was important to ensure the farm remained a clean and safe environment for visitors and neighbours.  I organised the composting piles, ensuring the usable compost is accessible for use throughout the farm to fertilise the food growing beds. These are used by various volunteer groups including adults with learning and physical disabilities and children so the compost pile needs to be safe and accessible.  

I also helped medicate a sick ram. It takes plenty of hands to keep a ram calm and still whilst medicating it, unfortunately, the ram passed away as the condition was too severe.  In the Spring, four lambs were born who had been fathered by the ram, having the opportunity to connect naturally to the circle of life and death puts everything into perspective.

I would sew seeds, weed vegetable beds and clean seed trays for the plant nursery ‘Propagation Place’. This allowed the plant nursery managers to spend more time leading more enriching activities with other volunteer groups who are often referred to Propagation Place to improve their mental wellbeing.  In the summer I helped to run a BBQ in the summer, using some of the harvested crops from Propagation Place to make a range of dishes to offer to the volunteers referred through the mental health charity MIND.

I found working with other volunteers and hearing about the challenges in their lives to be thought provoking and heart warming as the sense of support and community that was built by working together and listening to each other was uplifting. I learnt a multitude of new skills and knowledge about animal care, seed sewing, crop harvesting.

Towards the end of my volunteer programme, I heard that Propagation Place were hiring plant nursery assistants though the Kickstarter Scheme, as I was eligible I applied, keen to remain at the farm and further my skills and connections there, I was successful and completed a 6 month contract for them from April to October 2021 where I learned a lot about propagating plants as well as sustainable horticultural practices & completed first aid training. I still work odd days at the farm, helping with the animals, site maintenance, and in the office providing support to the new kickstart workers. 

I began as a volunteer, I progressed as a staff member, and I intend to use the skills and connection that I am gaining at university to become a lifelong advocate for the farm. 

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