Our Community continues to thrive and more people, individuals and families, join us all the time. Some speak good English but there is a growing need for volunteers able to teach English and/or do conversation sessions with new migrants as a regular commitment. It is very rewarding to see the communication improve and to share cultural experiences as communication develops.
As RA-C grew as an organisation, in size and in demand for our services, we developed a Volunteer Induction procedure that all volunteers are now expected to undergo. This has now been in place for nearly 2 years. During the Covid pandemic we have had to ask a lot of people to go on our waiting list, whilst close contact has not been allowed. However in a few cases when someone offered a very specific skill and knowledge, which we urgently needed, we have given that individual a condensed induction and been grateful for their involvement, mainly in the offices, where Covid precautions are strict. We hope to be able to resume Volunteer Training Days and interviews in the Autumn but this is highly dependent on the progress of the Delta variant. Thank you to those of you who are still waiting patiently.
Forest Schools continue as they are outdoor activities of an educational and community nature. These involve experiencing the outdoors in a relaxed, supervised way and bear very little resemblance to school. Attending Forest Schools has enabled some of our clients to go on to use the woods in their own way, others love regular attendance and we now have an influx of families who are keen to join in. Helping at Forest Schools is one of the roles volunteers can fulfil. Cooking potatoes on the fire remains very popular!
Young men, mainly asylum-seekers, continue to benefit from the weekly work sessions we run at the Big Garden, which are supervised by Wayne Setford of Together We Grow CIC, and his volunteers, and 2 or 3 of us from RA-C. This is a very attractive activity now that the weather is fine (although we kept going throughout the Winter) but as a mental well-being project it can only be staffed by long-term and regular members of the RA-C team.
Recently a group of women met with Rowena Macaulay, the local walks aficionado, to discuss walking and taking part in her Jane’s Walks in August. There is a core of keen women and we hope others will join in. One of our translators who has become a volunteer is keen to make these happen and says that she loves our pavements and paths as they hardly exist in Jordan, where she comes from! We would still like some of our pavements to better maintained though. An important aspect of our walks will be for them to be accessible and enable conversation and friendship.
On Fridays June 11th and 18th a number of families, old and new, are attending some entertainment by 2 women called The Flying Seagulls. The first has taken place and was a great success despite Friday evening traffic delaying the starting time. The good natured entertainers were very flexible and fortunately the venue, The Oak tree and Acorn Centre on the Harwich Road, had a small playground which kept the children busy. The organisation was quite complex for Philip and the case workers but the pleasure and fun it provided made it worth-while. New relationships were instigated between parents and children and I was amazed by how energetically friendly and cooperative the children were at the end of a week at school and a very hot day!! We are still having to adhere to the 30 maximum limit. As usual we can’t print the photos which show the joy on the children’s and adult’s faces and the number of people having such a good time.
Best Wishes, Elizabeth Community and Volunteer Coordinator June 13th 2021