Chris Column Image

Chris's story

Chris was moved to volunteer for Place2Be after working with struggling families as a community nurse. Nine years later, she explains why she continues to support pupils in County Durham. 

After qualifying as a Paediatric Nurse I started working with families in their homes and communities.

When an eight-year-old girl, distressed by her father’s terminal illness, was shaking, hyperventilating and burying her face in her desk at school, I discovered there was no counselling help available for children at that time. My colleagues encouraged her to express her worries through pictures and stories.

I decided to become a counsellor years later because of the support I received during a difficult time in my own life but when I learned about Place2Be in college, I remembered this family and felt excited to learn of this ‘on the spot’ help that valued children, learning, creativity, diversity and ethical ways to work. These values motivated me to volunteer.

My first weeks at Place2Be were full of positivity, encouragement and consistency, especially from the School Project Manager. Place2Be’s training also gave me guidance and focus.

What is so wonderful about working with children is that it’s the little things that have the greatest impact. A picture drawn for a child at their request, a handmade board game, a rhyme or a story each relevant to a child’s journey can make them enraptured and engaged.

It’s particularly rewarding when a child begins to show signs that they are becoming more resilient. A shy little girl with dyspraxia astonished me by showing off her amazingly competent dancing skills; a brand new pupil, hyperactive and tense during her first few sessions eventually blew a feather from her small hand to demonstrate her lightness of spirit; a “happy fountain” was drawn by a child with Asperger syndrome, having grieved deeply following the death of his mum.

It is during those moments that I really appreciate the opportunities Place2Be offers children. Their positive ethos permeates throughout the school and their teams have the skills to nurture the dedication and commitment of everyone involved, enabling us all to support each child for as long as it takes.

Inspired? Read more Volunteer Stories or find out more on our volunteer counselling placements page 

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Craig's story

Craig's teacher referred him to Place2Be because he was always involved in fights in the playground