Hello! My name is Hannah and I'm currently studying on the English Literature MA. I volunteer for the Cambourne Child and Family Centre, helping in the creche which accommodates for the children of parents taking a course within the centre.
An advert for a volunteer went up in the centre almost a year ago. The creche doesn't line up with my career choice and initially I only thought of it as a way of giving back. Almost everyone at the centre has helped me and my son in some way, and finding myself with some free time I thought it would be great to give back and help with a creche which will in turn support other parents. However, I've also found myself benefiting from this experience in ways I hadn't first expected.
Every week, parents come in and hand over children of different ages; a few months old up to school age. A lot of parents go to an English Class, leaving their children for the first time. It's also the first time these children have been left without their parents in an English speaking environment. Toddlers chatter away to each other in different languages, completely unphased by the Polish and Chinese replies that come their way! The children are gaining social confidence and learn good communication skills, often leaving us being able to communicate confidentially in English. It's an amazing journey to take with them.
"I've come to understand the importance of supporting the community and I've come to appreciate all the little roles that go unnoticed"
We keep the children entertained in a variety of ways: ball pit, messy play, puzzles, reading, singing, outside play and crafts are just a few of the ways we keep them happy. We clean up, make snacks and hand children back to their parents knowing that their families are benefiting from this experience, just as my own did not long ago. And now, they've given me the opportunity to work with them, and help them continue their amazing work. They have given me skills in the group, from communication and planning to problem solving and handling emotionally charged situations amongst children. I've come to understand the importance of supporting the community. I've come to appreciate all the little roles that go unnoticed, which improve the facilities and opportunities available to those who need them most.
I encourage anyone in their time at Anglia Ruskin to try volunteering. It doesn't have to be in your chosen career path. Skills are transferable and it is a great way to make friends and gain experience in the workplace. Find something you want to contribute to, or create a volunteer profile with ARU Students' Union Volunteer Centre to find a volunteer opportunity perfect for you. Become a part of the community, the University community and the Cambridge community; add to your experience, add to your CV and add to the lives around you!
- Hannah Cox