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My experience of The Winch

By Karina (intern)

When asked by others about my internship experience, I immediately grow excited to share every detail of what it is like to be at The Winch. Over the past month I have been welcomed into the Winch family with open arms and have enjoyed every single second of my time here. I have truly learned a lot from my colleagues about what it means to work in this industry and provide care for children. Working in the After School Club has given me not only experience for my future, but happy memories with the staff and children that I will keep with me forever.

Through working in the After School Club, I have been exposed to genuine attention for the children that I have not seen in my past experience of child care. During our time with the children, staff are quick to engage in play, resulting in an abundance of giggles from both child and adult. Whether it be by cooperating when being put in “jail,” giving time-outs to stuffed animals for “misbehaving,” or chasing the kids around in a game of ‘It’, laughter can always be heard at the Winch.

I often find myself simply observing the action around the room and smiling at how genuine the bonds are between the staff and children, which are evident through the activities they engage in together. Likewise, the activities planned are chosen with care for the interests of the children, every day there is sure to be an activity that each age will enjoy due to the thought and care put into daily planning. I have found that the relationships built both among children and between staff and the children are so positive due to staff’s genuine interest in their establishment. 

Rather than being a situation in which the child is relevant only when they are at the After School Club, staff care about the wellbeing of the child at all times. Even when the staff are making preparations at the start of the day or cleaning up at the end of the night, they are still discussing ways to improve relations at The Winch. Whether it is considering new activities or debating how to handle difficult behaviour or disagreements between the children, it is evident that the staff here keep the utmost interest of the child in mind when making decisions. I feel that is a magnificent quality to have in the staff of an organization such as this one. The care exhibited by the staff towards the children they are working with makes me proud to be a part of The Winch and it likewise makes me happy to see this dedication to the children of this community. 

With only two weeks left in my internship, the idea of leaving already breaks my heart. Being a part of The Winch family, even if only for two months, has been one of the best elements of my time in London. It is clear to see that the people of this organization are extremely kind, thoughtful, and passionate for what they do and I will dearly miss seeing the positive work being achieved by this group of humans. Moreover I know I will miss hearing their laughter, playing restaurant and pretend-eating the food they’ve “cooked” for me, laughing with them as we copy each other’s accents, and even being declared ‘It’ and running around the playground. Overall, I know I have to make the most of my last two weeks here. This experience is one that I will walk away from with happy memories and the assurance that the children of the After School Club are receiving the greatest possible care.

Thank you for taking the time to read my reflection about working at The Winch. This holiday season we are raising money through the Big Give. Please consider donating to our organisation this Christmas!

First time I saw the Sea

By Andre Kpodonu (Youth Work Manager)

I found it hard when tasked with writing a blog post to think of a snapshot of my day-to-day work that I wanted to put out into the world. Many youth workers have argued that our work and the relationships we hold are too complex to be explained readily. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t also a degree of anxiety at the idea of putting my practice up here for all the world to access, should they wish. Upon reflection however I found the hardest thing was in fact, the daunting task of distilling so many varied experiences into some sort of coherent message.

Seeking help, I got to talking to my colleague Jim about some of the highlights from the summer programmes we’ve run over the years. Naturally we ended up meandering around some of the more humorous situations we’ve found ourselves over the years; our attempts to save a picnic in Regents park after the heavens opened up on us; the time a pair of our young people got stuck on a ride at Thorpe Park while - to everyone’s terror – a pre-recorded announcement warned the barriers were about to open.

Despite the tricky and sometimes hilarious moments that come with working with children and young people, the moments that continue to resonate are the ones that give you the tiniest glimpse into someone’s world expanding.

What better example than watching a young person discover the sea for the first time? A 15 year-old that kept it to himself so well, that the first we knew of this was when they ran screaming like a banshee into the water, shoes and all. In the shock and joy of such a discovery, questions can often multiply. How had this come so late? How many other young people haven’t seen our shore, or any other? When was the first time I saw the sea?

The conversation reminded me of a similar experience I had on a sailing trip with young people from our Enterprise Programme, The Company. The young person was 22-year-old and happy to be on a break from their difficult living situation. During some of the downtime just after lunch they confessed that they couldn’t remember ever going to the beach, despite spending their early childhood on an island renowned for their beautiful shores.

Our next stop was going to be Weymouth. The whole crew resolved to ensure the young person would go to the seaside and experience getting in the water for the first time. It took us all pledging to do the same for him to dip his toes in. As we watched the sun go down, I was struck by how important such a small moment could be amongst all the difficulties that can come with living in London.

A young person seeing the sea for the first time, stepping into the water, feeling it lapping coolly against their feet. The summer is a time where special moments like these become possible. Once the darkness of winter has fully retreated, and the pressures of the academic year have faded away we can often find the time we need to look beyond our immediate problems.

Thank you for taking the time to read my reflections; we’re grateful for your support. This Christmas we are raising money for our summer activities, so that we can continue to broaden horizons, provide new experiences and take young people on journeys (both literally and metaphorically)- we hope that you will support our mission to do this by donating to the Big Give campaign which will match your donation- doubling the amount and doubling the impact.

Click here to support the campaign