Sharon Column Image

Sharon's story

Sharon became a Place2Be counsellor in North West London after seeing an ad in the newspaper. After 9 years, hundreds of counselling sessions and a lot of spilled paint, she’s still learning. 

Many moons ago, my friend showed me a Place2Be ad in the newspaper while I was working at a children’s centre. I decided it was right up my street and applied pretty quickly. After 9 years, hundreds of counselling sessions and a lot of spilled paint, I still love what I do.

I’ve always worked with children and when I’m not volunteering at a primary school in Brent, I’m a family practitioner, so sometimes I have to switch off my ‘fix-it’ mode when I’m counselling. I’m used to helping children actually sort out their problems, so in the early days I was scared that I wouldn’t adapt to Place2Be’s less ‘directive’ albeit effective way of doing things.

Now though I’m all for taking a step back and trusting the process. To me, what makes Place2Be really unique is offering that safe place where children can explore their feelings in their own way and at their own pace.

I always think back to a 6-year-old boy who was diagnosed with autism and struggled to manage his emotions. When he came to see me he was eager to show off how many facts he knew. It turned out that his trivia was a coping mechanism for when he felt anxious. Gradually, he started talking about other things, playing with paint and involving me more. I was delighted when his teacher told me he was calmer in class and no longer threw chairs when angry.

Even though I only volunteer one day a week, I feel like part of the school community. Teachers ask me for advice, and I often show new volunteers the ropes. I have had the pleasure of attending many school assemblies and performances, facilitating ‘circle times’ and seeing children for our lunchtime ‘Place2Talk’ sessions. When I was nominated for a Place2Be award, staff kindly put pictures of me up on the noticeboard and even voted me staff member of the week. While playing in my steel band in the middle of Notting Hill Carnival, I was warmly greeted by a little boy who recognised me as “the Place2Be lady from my school!”

Volunteering has been brilliant for me professionally and personally. I’m about to do some Place2Be training about working with secondary school pupils, which is an area I’m keen to move into. Feeling so valued by everyone has built my confidence too, and my friends and family see it! People always tell me “I wish I had you in my school”

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Craig's story

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