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What could you achieve as a children’s centre volunteer?

by Gemma Melling

Would you like to work with children or families, learn new skills and make a difference in your local community? Perhaps your children have just started at school or nursery and you have a few hours to spare?

Your local children’s centres are currently recruiting volunteers to join their nationally recognised programme – which could give you the experience you need to achieve whatever you want to!

Why volunteer?

Volunteering at a children’s centre helps build your confidence, skills and experience and can even help you get into your dream career.

Just ask Marianne. After moving into Knowsley with a young son, she began volunteering at her local children’s centre and the results were life-changing.

Marianne said: “I used Children’s Centres when my son was born and found them very valuable, so I decided I’d like to get involved with volunteering.

“I wanted to build up my self-confidence so that I felt ‘work ready’, and through doing various training courses for the volunteering I’ve also found out about adult education courses that I can do. I’ve started studying towards an A Level that I hope will enable me to find work in adult education, a field that I’m interested in.”

Last year, Knowsley became the first area in the north of England to have a Children’s Centres group gain the Investing in Volunteers Kitemark, in recognition of the fantastic support and opportunities given to volunteers.

It means anyone volunteering with the centres can be sure they’ll be given the right training and support to develop and know they’ll become a valued part of a well-run team.

Cllr Gary See, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Knowsley Council, said: “Volunteers are part of the lifeblood of our children’s centres,” explains Cllr Gary See. “Most of them are local parents which means they absolutely understand the needs of our centre users, and are able to work really well as part of the team to deliver a wide range of services to Knowsley families.”

And, if your aim is to get into paid employment in the future, then volunteering at a children’s centre is a proven way to boost your employment prospects.

A great route into work

In the last couple of years, the overwhelming majoring of volunteers in Knowsley’s children’s centres have been helped into paid work – even though many of those people may have never previously worked and often felt that employment was out of their reach.

“The fact that these volunteers have all secured much-wanted employment is a wonderful success story for the volunteer programme which is run within our children’s centres,” says Cllr See.

“Volunteering allows people to gain valuable skills which increase their employability, whilst raising their confidence and self-esteem.”

Joanne was one of those volunteers who found work after spending time volunteering.

She said: “I left school with no qualifications, and I didn’t think I was capable of doing anything. I thought I’d be a stay at home mum for the rest of my life,” she said. “But you don’t realise the skills you have got, and what you can do with them.”

She says: “I would never have dreamt of being where I am today. My kids look up to me now,” says Joanne. The Children’s Centres have shown me a different way of life, and I can’t thank them enough for how my life has totally changed.”

Want to find out more?

Get in contact with your local children’s centres to find out more about the opportunities that are currently available.

For Huyton area children’s centres, contact Jess Aitchison on 0151 443 5226.

For Kirkby area, go online to http://kirkbychildrenscentres.co.uk/volunteering/ where you’ll find more information about the currently available roles and an application form. You can also contact Ann Bennett on 0151 443 4321.

For the Whiston, Prescot, Cronton and Halewood area, contact Wendy Martindale on 0151 443 4531.

Children's Centres volunteers and staff interviewed by Radio Merseyside earlier this year

Children’s Centres volunteers and staff interviewed by Radio Merseyside earlier this year

“Go for it”

Volunteer Marianne speaks passionately about volunteering with Knowsley’s Children’s Centres.

She said: “The support you get has been fantastic, you get lots of training before you start and we’re looked after really well with regular meetings to see how we’re doing and whether we have any issues.

“Everyone is friendly, supportive and accommodating when you need to fit your volunteering around other commitments.”

She added: “If you’re thinking about volunteering I’d just say: do it! If nothing else you’ll have a great time, build up your self-confidence and gain new skills that you can use as you go on in life.”