Aileen’s voluntary role at local primary school
30/10/2014A voluntary placement with Markethill Primary School is helping local woman Aileen Finch to build her independence and confidence.
Aileen had attended Station Road Resource Centre for people with physical disabilities in Armagh for 22 years before she availed of alternatives to daycare through the Southern Health and Social Care Trust’s Community Access Team.
Valerie Berry is a community access officer at the Trust and her role is to assess the individual’s interests, abilities and expectations and match them with leisure, social and volunteering opportunities in their own community.
“While Aileen was at Station Road Resource Centre, we discussed her interests and that she liked working with children, music and administration,” explains Valerie. “I worked closely with Aileen to build up trust and encouraged her to complete qualifications in Maths and English.
“I approached Markethill Primary School to see if they could provide a placement opportunity I also helped Aileen complete the necessary screening checks. She loves the school surroundings and Aileen’s placement, along with the support of her family, has contributed to her personal and social development. Aileen is learning valuable skills and is enjoying her role so much she has given up her place at day care. Aileen has become very resilient and confident and is enjoying having her responsibilities at the school.”
Aileen says: “I like working with children and everyone at Markethill Primary is great. I’ve helped in the P1 class and I like taking children to the Special Needs teacher Mr Patterson. I help out in the breakfast club, the playground at break and in the dining room at lunchtime.”
Principal Mr Richardson says that her role is important for the school and will be developed over the next few years.
“We’re a very busy school and we’re very happy with Aileen’s placement,” adds Mr Richardson. “She is our first volunteer and has been with us two days each week and contributed to the smooth running of activities. Aileen has brought groups of children from their classroom to our Special Education Needs Co-ordinator. She also does photocopying for the teachers and helps in the infant rooms.
“With lots of demands on staff time, Aileen has freed up teachers who were involved in supervision duties in the playground and dining room. Aileen’s first year has proven that she is co-operative with all staff, works well with pupils and has skills to match the needs of our school. We’re learning as much about Aileen as she is learning about us and we plan to develop her skills across the school over the next few years.”
The Trust supports 200 adults with a learning, physical disability, hearing impairment and mental illness with access to a range of community-based services as alternatives to day care. Visit www.southerntrust.hscni.net/CommunityAccessService to see Aileen in her placement at the school.