Update from last week’s ‘Struggling with lack of support’

Good evening folks.

I got such a response to my post last week about the issues I’m having with a session I run on a Tuesday that I thought I owed it to the people, who invested time in reading the post, an update.

I was quite anxious today – I’d not had a great day at work and wasn’t looking forward to the evening session that awaited me. I called one of the bosses to ask how he wanted me to run the session, and I got fobbed off again. So I was just annoyed.

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Whilst getting ready to set off, I got a text from one of the kids that comes to the session, who has learning difficulties, to say she’d had a really bad day and wanted to try this, that and the other to cheer herself up at the session. I reminded myself that the kids were the focus and not the issues I was having in the background and set off on my merry way.

I arrived early, and when I got there, the work placement students were in a meeting with the other boss. He invited me in to their meeting and explained that he had been giving them an induction. We had a brief chat but nothing came of it. So as he made his way back to his office, I followed him and decided I would corner him and get answers.

So, I went into his office, and just laid it on the table and said it was a bit of a silly expectation to deal with a load of work placement students who have no drive and expect to have work put at their feet rather than use their own initiative. He actually agreed, and said he was unsure how to deal with them as he had never had a work placement student like me since I first joined them back in 2014. I worked on my own initiative, I hit the ground running and made the most of the opportunities on offer but the students that followed me were nothing like that, and would happily sit on the sofa for 3 hours watching rather than get involved.

We discussed how to work going forward, and he suggested I take an easy night and let them run the session under my guidance and see how that worked. I agreed to do that, and went back down to brief the students on what the plan was for the night. They weren’t eager, but it was better than sitting and doing nothing. I divided the session up between them, and took my seat at the back of the room. They didn’t really take it seriously, and didn’t stick to the plan. They made a bit of a joke of it and the kids just stared at them blankly.

Halfway through, another girls walks in and tells me that she had come to volunteer and was told to come to my session (!!!! ANOTHER ONE !!!!) – by that point, I had no work to give her so she had to sit and watch.

I got fed up with them taking the piss, and noticed another session lead walk past the window so I nipped out and pulled her to one side. After discussing my concerns, she shared my feelings of annoyance, and offered to take them into her session as it was more hands on and had stuff she could give them! Bonus! It was so good to be able to talk to someone and have them actively offer to help without asking was amazing. It gave me an boost in spirit – and took the pressure off of me. I also gave the students some ideas as to other sessions they could tag on to (again, annoying to have to put stuff at their feet rather than them figure it out for themselves but you can’t always win).

Which left this additional person who had joined us halfway through. I recognised her from 2014 when I started working there and she left. She had caused a lot of trouble between some of the service users, and they hated it since. It just so happened that this girl decided to come back on the night that her rivals were in so it was really tense. I had to pretend I didn’t know what had happened before. We chatted about what she wanted to get out of volunteering, she didn’t really know but I offered to let her take over a part of my session the following week – in addition to the students.

So next week, I’m dividing a session that one person runs between four people. I’m concerned as they don’t take the work I’ve done seriously, and the kids struggled tonight because of it. They didn’t have the guidance they usually have from me, and were just thrown things to try that they had never done before without the right level of support. So, it’s frustrating to watch everything go to pot that I’ve worked hard to put in place for the last 8 months. I don’t want the kids to suffer for their lack of trying and interest but at the same time, it’s not my place to turn them away.

We will just have to see how it goes. I feel better after last week; I was fuming last week. But I feel a little deflated this week – not exactly angry. Meh.

Francesca x

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