This post is written by Liz, who today completes her secondment from John Lewis as part of their Golden Jubilee Trust scheme.
“Before I started my secondment at Body & Soul I was quite nervous about what my role was going to be and what was expected of me. I didn’t really know how to describe what I would be doing when anybody asked me.
During my first week, I completed an induction and had phone training to fully prepare me to answer the phone (it rings a lot!) and answer questions and inquiries as best as I could for the caller.
My second and third week I spent doing my best to dodge answering the phone as I was petrified of saying the wrong thing, but once I was forced into answering it, I realised it wasn’t so bad and I didn’t look back…or cut anybody off!
Throughout February I spent most of my time organising a baby massage class for mothers with children under 1 year as well as making an accompanying leaflet and a baby record book to hand out in the class. We had a great turn out for this an intimate group session. For many of the mums this was their first experience of baby massage so hopefully the session has equipped them with some new skills to practice on their baby, along with a technique guide and a bottle of massage oil.
For the first 2 months of my time at Body & Soul, I spent every Tuesday evening in the children’s centre switching between working with the babies (0-3 years) and the children (3-9years) which was perfect as I got to use some of the skills I already had. It was great to help with the service night preparation as I think sometimes the hard-work and effort can be overlooked unless you get in there and do some of it yourself! My inner child was brought out when I got to make the examples for the activities (my favourites were empathy glasses and a space backpack containing pictures of all the things which make you happy!) It was lovely to see the children make their own take on them and wear them with pride!
In between helping in the children’s centre, making activities and looking after children I have spent my time researching facilities available in different boroughs for parents and children. I have made a database of children’s services which can be printed off and given to a parents in the corresponding borough so they can take full advantage of what’s local to them. It’s still a work in progress as it can be constantly added to and updated when something new crops up. I hope that it will come in handy for some parents who have run out or struggle to think of things to do and places to go with their little ones!
For my final month I was asked to help organise and plan a young adults parenting workshop, recruiting potential attendees and their children. I ran an activity with the group and decided it would be nice for them to make something to give to their children. John Lewis had donated lots of bags of socks to Body & Soul so I thought why not make something out of them! The “sock monkeys” looked so cute and were the perfect gift for a child. I was genuinely really excited to share my creation and see what the mums thought of them! They didn’t all think that they would be able to do it but lots of thread later and a lot of chatter we had some completed sock monkeys with some of the members being asked by friends and family to make them one too!
Over the course of my time at Body & Soul I have built up some really strong relationships with parents and children. It makes you feel a sense of warmth when even over a short period of time a child recognises you from a previous week and gives you a big hug or when a parent recognises your voice over the phone. I have had a wonderful and eye-opening experience working here and I will miss it tremendously I hope to come back and volunteer some of my free time in the not so distant future!”