At Farlington Lower Sixth students are given the opportunity to do Voluntary Service. Volunteering can make a real difference to the girls’ own lives and to the lives of those in the local community. It develops and enhances skills such as team work, organisation, communication, time management and tolerance. For many of the girls it can help guide and inform them with future career choices and it can be a useful addition to their university and future job applications.
At Farlington we are very grateful for the variety of local placements which welcome the girls on Friday afternoons. Various charity shops have provided valuable placements and girls are currently working at the RSPCA shop. The students spend time working on the till, sorting stock, pricing items, arranging window displays and generally being helpful in a customer facing retail environment. They also had to go into the town and hand out leaflets to promote the shop.
Two girls are currently helping at the QEII Silver Jubilee School in Horsham which caters for pupils with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties. They give practical support in the classroom environment and find playing with the children extremely rewarding. They have taken guidance from the teachers in how to help the children develop their literacy and communication skills and developed perseverance and patience while dealing with the challenges of the non-verbal children.
Whilst the weather sometimes conspired against us, Warnham Nature Reserve proves to be a popular placement. The girls take part in the outdoor environmental tasks such as clearing the bird hides and unloading sheep. They carried out basic maintenance jobs, such as assembling a bench. They especially enjoy having to wrap up warm in several layers of clothing and, of course, wearing the essential Wellington boots.
A long-standing placement is Rapkyns Nursing Home, Broadbridge Heath. Set in 40 acres of landscaped grounds, it cares for elderly and frail people with dementia and it provides specialist care for people with complex long term conditions including neurological conditions such as Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis and acquired brain injury. Girls spend time in conversation with the residents, play Scrabble, paint and take them to the fishpond. The girls have gained confidence from building relationships with a number of residents and have enjoyed hearing their stories.
A new placement this term is the Springboard Project which provides inclusive play and leisure opportunities for families with young children and fun short breaks for children and teenagers with disabilities. The girls are on-hand to help facilitate play for the visitors there and have learnt to communicate with young children and organise play for them.
A firm favourite is most certainly helping in Farlington Nursery. The seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds adore spending time with the little boys and girls there and always come back with lovely stories of how adorable the toddlers are. The highlight is always when they go to see them in the Nativity Play.
Many continue with their placements into holiday time. This may be to fulfil the service element requirements of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, but mostly it is because the girls want to spend their own time volunteering. It is an optional activity here at Farlington, but it is a truly wonderful reflection of the caring and confident girls here in the Sixth Form that they wish to offer more.
Ms Louise Higson, Headmistress, says, “Voluntary Service is a valuable part of the Sixth Form. Studying for A Levels is, undoubtedly, the key element of the girls’ time in the Lower and Upper Sixth, but our aim at Farlington is to turnout well-rounded, confident individuals who can contribute to society. Our Voluntary Service programme, along with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Young Enterprise scheme, develops the girls’ experience of taking responsibility and leadership skills and has a positive impact on the local community.”