When preparing myself for this volunteer work, I pondered upon where to go to complete it. After searching in my local area for something suitable, I thought staying close to home and volunteering at something that directly effects my community would be the best option. Less than a mile from my home is where my local church is located, as a church they hold multiple community project and events to serve the surrounding area. On a Thursday evening, the church holds a community kids club called ‘Basement club’ (as it is held in the downstairs of the church that is nicknamed ‘the basement’) where children for the local community can come to enjoy games, activities and socialise with other children their age. Many of the children who attend are from deprived backgrounds and having a safe space to attend a free club, I think is a wonderful thing. At the club the leaders (who are all church members) plan the evening usually with a theme or message at the centre eg. friendship or honesty. This provides some purpose to each night instead of just letting the children run wild for a couple of hours.
I was pleasantly surprised by the number of children who attended and the enthusiasm of parents for ‘basement club’, in recent years church has lost its image and some may think it no longer holds purpose or importance within our society. I was encouraged by the work that this church does to serve it’s community, from having a deaf social group to a mens bowling group and even a large toddler play group. This is the case in churches around our country, they focus on serving and bringing communities together, I now think that churches play a key role in communities but the way they contribute is different to the past. (BBC bitesize, 2019)
The people who live around this church recognise the work that goes on and this reflects on the attendance and that parents are keen for the children to attend ‘basement club’. I found volunteering at ‘basement club’ a fun and enjoyable experience, especially as I was interacting with children in a different way that I am used to as a student teacher. I led a few of the games and this was well received by the children and even the adults took part too.
From this experience, I have become aware of the importance that small community clubs like ‘basement club’ hold within our communities. Children were able to enjoy interacting with new people and be in a safe and secure place, I had noted that parents appreciate the fact that the club is free and that the leaders give up their free time. The community are appreciative of and value this club, it brings children a sense of belonging where they can socialise and have fun.
Through volunteering at ‘basement club’, I was able exercise the use of my leadership, collaborative and communication skills, I did this through leading games and volunteering alongside other leaders. Moreover, I have become aware of some attributes that I used but feel I could develop further these being; listening skills, being more enthusiastic and being able to improvise. I believe that by developing these particular attributes it will benefit me as a teacher and allow me to educate children in the best way possible. As a whole, to volunteer at a club like this some skills I recognised that are required are; communication, collaboration, leadership, listening and decision-making. These are all key to ensure the club is run smoothly , effectively and provides and enjoyable experience for the children.
Prior to attending ‘basement club’ I was unaware of the impact similar clubs/groups have on our communities. They provide a service that benefits many and give opportunity for social links and bonds to be made between people connected to the group. I have also realised how beneficial it can be for a child to take part in clubs out with the school setting, it allows them to connect with different people and make them feel part of a community other than school. This particular club has children from deprived backgrounds attend, having a free club that is child-centred is important for these children. They feel supported and safe when they are there and they can feel part of something thing, for more deprived families it can be difficult to let their children take part in expensive hobbies or clubs, but this club serves for them.
When reflecting upon my experience, I recalled the prior work we covered in our Sustainable development module that concerned rights.
article 31 (leisure, play and culture)Every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities.
This article highlights how we should allow children to experience play and other leisure activities. I believe that at ‘basement club’ this right is at the focus and the children who attend are reaping the benefits of sharing that time of leisure together.
- UNCRC. (n.d). A summary of the un convention on the rights of the child. [online] Available at: https://downloads.unicef.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/UNCRC_summary-1_1.pdf?_ga=2.101876993.1869046368.1574806956-1895018062.1574806956 [Accessed 26th Nov. 2019].
- BBC Bitesize. (2019). Role of the Church in contemporary society [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zvgp47h/revision/1 [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].