Volunteering with the Factory Youth Zone

Hey, I thought I’d switch from writing my Les Mis post to doing this one because I can get it out faster. Also because this is becoming important to me as well.

I started doing voluntry work at my nearest youth centre at the end of Nov/beginning of Dec. I saw a banner calling for volunteers on the side of the building and thought it might be a good opportunity for me. Not only to break up my struggle to find a job-which is still going down hill-but also for me to learn some new skills and maybe pass on my love for books and writing. Well, that hasn’t happened it! But the skills have and there’ll be more on that later. First though what really drew me to the The Factory and volunteering? The answer lays in the fact that I didn’t fancy any more time at the Charity shop. Yeah, I know I was doing a good thing there and I was in a comfit zone with it, but I just got bored of doing the same things and tried of the people, who could sometimes be unfriendly. I wanted a complete change of environment and to be doing something new that would actually make me want to do it. I’ve always been good with kids and thought that it would be another great thing on my CV.

That saying; you won’t know until you try, comes into mind. I guess because I was so unsure when I applied and went for an interview that I was the kind of person they were looking for. Most people they take on my age are either doing a related course and need the experience or have completed the course and either have a paid job or are gaining more experience. So it was odd I guess for someone coming out of a masters to want to volunteer at a job they had no qualifications or experience doing. I think it was my skills that I could bring to the centre though and my eagerness to try my hand at something different that saw me through. I did well in the training too and manged to take everything on board. There was a lot about the law and safe guarding children, as well as looking for signs of neglect etc. There was other stuff like how to deal with different and difficult situations that can happen. I took it all in and found it an easy day. I then choice to do Mondays and Tuesdays afternoons and work with the 8-12 year olds coming after school.

The factory itself has only been open a year or two now. It’s purpose is a designed space for all young people aged 8-21 to have fun, gain new skills, make new friends and be able to talk to someone about any issues. The building is divided into a number of areas across two floors and has; a gym, a rec hall, a craft area, a music room, a dancing/performing arts space, a climbing wall, a football field, a sports hall with things like netball, trampolining and other indoor sports and cafe/chill out area. They run different time slots for age groups as well so that people can make the best use of the time and activities on offer. There’s normally so many different activities running too, mostly these are sports or music, but the arts and crafts have a number of things running and there is also tables to play boardgames on.

My first afternoon though was a little scary, though nothing bad as the first day at school. I was unsure what to do or who to speak too, so it took me a few to speak to a guy in a blue t-shirt about what I should do. I was then meet by the senior/leader youth worker and I got put on the crafts table. I love getting creative and making stuff. Though I’ve to admit that since starting I’ve not done as much sewing in my life! That day does seem a blur now and I can remember what it was we were making. It changes every day or every week, though normally it has to do with sewing and creating things. I get a chance to make my own thing and let my creativity out, but mostly I focus on helping the kids and passing on my skills to them. Which is what it should always be about.

I’m still helping out on the craft table now and I’m pleased to say that I’ve taught a few kids to sew and helped many other things create things. So far I’ve also helped to make a xmas banner and xmas gifts. I’ve made these items for my self; a xmas hat, a xmas socking, a xmas card, a badge for my jacket and a poster about all the things I want to do this year. I’m currently helped two boys make superhero costumes for their secret club and I’ve been helping other kids with similar projects to the things I’ve made. I’ve also played a few games of badminton, table tennis and boardgames. I’ve gained a number of skills, like in teaching and leadership and looking after kids and being more in control and patient. Things that only come when in the world of work. These skills are pretty transferable to other things though and I’m hoping that they will aid me.

So, I am really loving my time at the Factory. I need to think about setting up a writing club though and also seeing if there’s a chance they can help me get into paid work as that would be much better for me. All my to do list and now I can get back to the Les Mis review too!

You can check out the Factory here;



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