"Working as a volunteer for Sure Start ( in Selston, Newstead, and Annesley in Notts)"

About: Mansfield & Ashfield

(as a volunteer/advocate),

I want to take this opportunity to share my wonderful experience of working as a volunteer at Sure Start Centres in Selston, Newstead, and Annesley, in Nottinghamshire.

My last job before taking maternity leave was as a mortgage adviser; one year merged into the next and before I knew it I had been doing the job for 12 years! But being on maternity leave gave me a 'little' time to really have a think about the career path I wanted to follow.

I have always wanted to work with children, so I began to look into the study options available to me.

I enrolled on a level 1 childcare course at a local college; this also involved a half a day work placement: I chose to work at a nursery for pre-preschoolers, and I instantly knew that I had made the right decision to choose this line of work.

At the end of the level 1 course, my college tutor suggested that I skip level 2 and progress onto the level 3 course. I was delighted.

I wanted gain experience working with a different age group when I embarked on the level 3 course, and because of the excellent experience I'd had as a parent frequenting my local Sure Start Centres, Sure Start was my first choice for my level 3 placement.

My initial meeting was with Jayne(Community Development Worker) from Sure Start, and when she said that she would like to welcome me as a volunteer, I responded by saying "Thank you, I appreciate you accepting me as a volunteer", and she quickly replied by saying " Your welcome, we're lucky to have you! ": This made me feel really valued, and motivated to do my best for Sure Start. It also gave me confidence which is certainly what you need when you are embarking on a complete career change.

Throughout the months that followed, I worked closely in the Sure Start Children's Centres with Jo, Janie, and Rachel, and I cannot thank them enough for their help and support, and for making me feel like a valued member of their team: Kelly, Andy, Justine and Sandra also helped provide me with lots of useful information to support my studies, nothing was ever too much trouble: And Jayne and Maxine ran an excellent 6 week volunteers training course.

Everyone at Sure Start without exception were so professional; and it was easy to see why they all been taken on: They all seemed to really enjoy what they do and well placed to competently fulfil their roles.

Part way through my course, a family member became ill, which also meant I had no childcare for my child. I contacted Jayne rather stressed, and I was worried that I might also have to give up my studies: She was very supportive and reassuring and accommodated me by rearranging the days / times I volunteered to allow me to volunteer at the groups where I was able to take my child along as well: Which meant that I was able to continue to pursue my intended career path: It also proved to be of great benefit to my child who has gained confidence, and independence, and like me has thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Jayne was able to find a solution to the problem that benefited all concerned.

I have now successfully completed my level 3 childcare qualification.

Thank you to EVERYONE at Sure Start for helping to make it possible.

And thank you to my fellow volunteers who were always so helpful and welcoming.

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Responses

Response from Karon Foulkes, General Manager, Sure Start, Health Partnerships - Nottinghamshire Healthcare

Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. You are an inspiration to others who want to take their career path down another route. Volunteering is not easy and I admire those with young children who give so much time to Sure Start. We really appreciate the work you do, the way you mean sure start can engage better with other parents, and the ideas and new approaches you bring.

I was really pleased that you received such a good service from the staff involved and in particular Jayne and will make sure the team are aware of your posting. All feedback is great but when it is positive it really helps reinforce good practice so thank you

I wish you success on taking your qualification into work in the future

Karon

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