Barnardos Volunteer Spotlight

Joyce Walsh who has been volunteering with Barnardos since 2012 met with up with Suzanne recently to share her volunteering experience

Posted on Friday 20 July 2018 in Volunteering

Joyce Walsh has been volunteering with Barnardos since 2012 and recently met with us to talk about her volunteering experiences.

Tell us about your volunteer roles with Barnardos?

I started off in 2012 as a reading tutor volunteer with the Wizards of Words (WoW) Reading programme, reading with children in a primary school in Limerick. That's what really got me interested in Barnardos as I thought that was such a wonderful programme.  With my own children I realised how important reading was - they could read, spell and write. If you don't have the basics it just holds you back. Unfortunately, the WoW programme came to an end during the recession, so Barnardos asked me if another volunteer role came up would I be interested in getting involved, and I said yes definitely. 

I then got involved in the Breakfast Club in Southill. This was a very early morning start, but it wasn't a problem. The children came into the breakfast club at 8am and we made sure they had something to eat and played games with them or you might read a story or get them to read to you - so I used the skills gained from the WoW programme for this. There were at least 30 children in the breakfast club, which could be hectic at times and they may be a little sleepy when they first come in, but once they had breakfast they were much perkier and ready for school. We made sure they had juice, porridge or cereal and fruit so they had a good start to their day.  I volunteered in the breakfast club for a number of years and was then asked to help in the After-School Club on a Monday in the afternoon - so I started volunteering there from September 2017. The children are a lively bunch, but I really enjoy it.

The children I'm with are aged 8 and younger and we have about 12 in the group. We pick them up from school and bring them across to the room. I started doing yoga with the children as I attended yoga myself for many years, so I used simple exercises to try to get them to relax at the start of the afternoon. Unfortunately, that didn't work out but as we were keen to do something to help calm them, I then started doing breathing exercises with them. The children now sit on the floor on a cushion, or lie on the floor, close their eyes and we have two minutes of complete silence. This really gets them relaxed. The children then get up and do their homework or play games. They then have their dinner before they go home. The children are a wonderful bunch; it's a pleasure to be with them each Monday afternoon. I will also be helping with the summer programme this summer, which will run from 9.30am to 4.30pm - I'm going to volunteer one day a week on this.  

What made you decide to volunteer with Barnardos?

I decided to volunteer with Barnardos because it involves children and has a very positive feel.  Barnardos are very involved with families and children, in particular, and I just like what they do.

What do you like about volunteering with Barnardos?

It focuses the mind, it gives you something to do and you get so much back from it, by being around the children.  Even the ones you aren't with this year but have been with in previous years - you can see the difference in them when you see them in school.  When they come in at the start of the year, you may have children who haven't been in the After-School Club before, so they don't know the rules and regulations, so it is lovely to see them getting on and it's great to get to know them and for them to get to know you. I get a sense of wellbeing from volunteering, it's nice to give back a little and it makes you feel better about yourself.  I really look forward to volunteering each Monday.

What would you say to someone who is considering volunteering with Barnardos?

I would say just do it; you won't regret it.  If you are a little worried or anxious and feel that you couldn't do it, go talk to somebody in Barnardos and they will answer all your questions and allay any fears. The training that you get with Barnardos equips you to deal with whatever you come across and you always have the ongoing support from Barnardos as there is always someone who you can ask.  Anyway, the children will sort you out in no uncertain terms!  

Want to Get Involved?

Please contact Suzanne via 01 7080431 or by email: connolly.suzanne@barnardos.ie for more info or to get involved.