Volunteer-Led Activities at the Hayridge
Regular users of the Hayridge may have noticed that our Saturday morning activities have been rather irregular of late, with issues around Lego Club, Coding Club, and Airfix Club. I’d like to use this issue of the Hubbub to let you know what’s going on, explain a little about our volunteer-led activities, and take the opportune of letting you know how you can help going forward if you have time to spare and would like to help your community to thrive.
Starting with the most complicated situation first, our Coding Club was suspended in November 2016. We originally started it with one volunteer back in 2015, but just as it was being to get established and gather some traction, our volunteer moved to work in a different part of the country before we had an opportunity to recruit additional volunteers. We therefore had to suspend the club in March 2016 while we recruited a new team to run the club.
The club restarted in July with two volunteers. I had hoped that this would give us additional resilience in the event that one of the volunteers needed to move on. Unfortunately at the end of October, both volunteers got new jobs at more or less the same time, just as the reformed club was starting to get settled. We had at that time added Minecraft as an extra option for Saturday mornings, but that was also affected by the sudden removal of volunteer support.
Over the winter, we have been working hard to put a new volunteer team together to deliver code club. This time we have eight volunteers, and it is my sincere hope that this time we will be able to sustain the club regardless of the occasional loss of a volunteer, or even several simultaneously.
If you have been affected by all this chopping and changing of the club, please accept my apologies; but I hope you understand that we have to be careful to make sure that the children in our care will be safe, and it takes time to get new volunteers on board and up to speed. Stay with us; we will get this right.
Airfix has been the very opposite of Coding club, in that we have some committed volunteers but not very much demand for the club from youngsters.
We have decided to temporarily suspend the Airfix club until the summer, while we look at the potential demand from both young and old. As a long-term fan of model-building, I think that Airfix is a brilliant hobby: it promotes mindfulness/relaxation, artistic expression, an interest in technology, and fosters an interest in history. However, in today’s digital age, it is not as popular with young people as it once was.
If there is sufficient interest – 5 people, say – we will reconstitute the Airfix club as a self-standing model club, possibly affiliated to the International Plastic Modeller’s Society (IPMS). To help identify the demand, we are looking at hosting a model-themed extravaganza in June. If that goes well, we’ll press-on with forming the club; if not, we will close the club down and see if the volunteers would be interested in supporting any of our other activities.
Lego has been really popular since it started at the beginning of 2015. We have been fortunate in that our volunteer, Tony Thurgood, has been so adaptable: we originally thought that Lego attendees would be aged 8-13 or so, and he was primed to help with tough engineering challenges. In fact, Lego has been mostly used by a much younger age group, and Tony has been fantastic in helping them to be comfortable building smaller projects at their own pace.
I’d also like to put on record the terrific help we have had from our two teen volunteers in using the Lego robots, and also Sam Gibb who has kindly lent us some of his personal collection of large and expensive Lego sets to complement the sets we have bought for the club.
Unfortunately, Tony Thurgood was seriously ill over the New Year and we are not sure when he will be well enough to return to the club. While he is away, I have allocated one of our staff members to supervise the club. We would love to hear from any adult in the community who might be interested in helping to run the club going forward.
Becoming a Volunteer
Becoming a volunteer is easy, if a little time-consuming.
The first step is to contact me, Centre Manager Darryl Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org . I will arrange a 1-1 meeting to discuss your interest, and explain the duties we expect you to perform according to the role you have expressed interest in.
If you are still interested after the 1-1, I will ask you to complete an “Expression of Interest” form. This asks for basic contact details, confirms the positon you are interested in, and asks for two references willing to testify on your behalf. When you submit the form, we contact your referees and wait for their response.
If the references are OK – and they invariably are – we then usually proceed to submit a DBS check on your behalf. This is necessary for any activity which involves supervision of children. The DBS check requires you to bring in documents to confirm your identity and address – the usual stuff, such as passport, driving licence, and utility bills. Once these are received and accepted by the DBS authority, you will be issued with a BS certificate, after which you’re ready to rock.
Once all the admin and bureaucracy is done and dusted, there will be a briefing to confirm start dates, personal safety and safeguarding practices, and the procedures to be followed for the activity you have volunteered to support. Phew!
Current Volunteer OpportunitiesI am currently looking for two adult volunteers for the Lego club, and am always keen to hear from people with programming OR children’s care experience, to add to the pool of volunteers supporting Coding and Minecraft.
We are also always on the lookout for people who are committed to a hobby that supports the library ethic – something to inspire an interest in technology, artistic expression, community involvement, or shared use of resources – so if you have a passion for a particular hobby or activity and would like to volunteer to share your passion with others, why not get in touch with me to see if we can support you through the library?
Volunteer-led activities are really important to our ability to support the community in interesting and engaging activities for all ages.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our wonderful volunteers, and hope that we can continue to support a wide and varies programme of events and activities going forward.