Hi there, I’m Sam Neale, a third year Psychology BSc student at Kingston University, and I recently ran a jewellery workshop at Shooting Stars CHASE Children’s Hospice, with children aged 4 -12.
I am so glad I got to run the project and to have had a positive impact at the hospice. I hoped they would have fun making things and to give them a sense of satisfaction upon making something creative which they can always keep. The children certainly seemed to enjoy it! You can see all their beautiful jewellery in the photos on this blog, and more on the KUSU Volunteering Facebook page.
Aside from making a positive impact at Shooting Star CHASE, I also wanted to build my own confidence in leading and supervising a project with young children, as I had previously only volunteered and worked in assistant roles or taught small groups as directed by a class teacher. I definitely achieved this goal, and feel far more confident to go on and teach/work with children.
As hoped, the project was a success and the children said they really enjoyed making the jewellery. One girl enjoyed it so much she made about 7 bracelets! Throughout the afternoon the children were able to relax and chat among themselves, with KUSU and myself, as well as the staff on hand to support children with more severe physical impairments, all whilst they worked on designing and making their jewellery. Seeing them have so much fun helped my confidence in knowing I am able to organise, lead and supervise a project.
The staff and children seemed delighted with the session and I think this project would work well on another occasion or in a similar organisation, with similar aged children.
As this was a student-led project, this experience has taught me how to plan, organise and manage a project. I now really appreciate all the fine details that go into planning volunteering work, particularly with children, especially risk assessment planning! I was also able to practice and develop my skills in liaising with people from different organisations and budget planning as well as time management.
I think my favorite part though, was watching the children enjoy a project I had planned, it made it that bit more rewarding. This experience has been wonderful, and not only will it look great on my CV but is something I will cherish forever. Throughout the project I was supported by KUSU Volunteer Coordinators Jemma and Sarah, who helped train me in filling out a risk assessment, and coach me through project planning. It was really great having them there as a support mechanism, and they were more than happy to help with anything during my project.
Having long enjoyed volunteering, I believe it is a great way to make a positive impact on people whilst get something back yourself in the process, whether that be simply enjoying seeing others benefit from your efforts or gaining valuable experience, or both! The more proactive you are and the more you give, the more you get back. I will definitely continue volunteering when I can.
If you want to run your own volunteering project like me, then visit the KUSU Volunteering website to find out more.