Steve Column Image

Steve's story

62-year-old Steve supported teenagers throughout his working life. Volunteering for Place2Be has given him the opportunity to develop his skills as a counsellor with younger children.

Counselling has always been a big part of my life but I never actually did much of it until I volunteered for Place2Be. Donkey’s years ago I completed a counselling diploma and certificate in art therapy, but continued following a career in teaching.

As Deputy Head at a secondary school I gave lots of guidance to students and got a bit of a reputation as someone who knew how to speak to so-called ‘difficult’ young people. However, school staff like me just didn’t have the time or facilities to offer the proper counselling many of them clearly needed.

After that I worked for Cardiff Council, where I looked after the budget for school-based counselling – a topic that was close to my heart. At the time, Place2Be were just beginning to work in Welsh schools and I travelled to London to meet their founder Dame Benita Refson, who shared my passion.

When I went part-time I took the plunge and volunteered for Place2Be at a primary school, forcing myself to put my studies into practice for the first time!

Even though I had a granddaughter, I remember feeling very self-conscious messing about with finger paints and using puppets. I found it particularly hard at first working with young children who expressed themselves through stories and characters when I was used to having conversations with teenagers.

One seemingly lonely girl talked continually about fictional characters for 50 minutes, barely stopping to take breath. I wondered what good I was doing by just sitting there with her. But during supervision, my Place2Be School Project Manager helped me see that listening and giving her time to be herself was making a difference.

Gradually the girl became happier and more relaxed in class. I spotted her playing football in the playground when before she would just watch from the side lines. She’s about to move to secondary school and I’m confident now that she’ll manage.

Place2Be’s training has really helped me develop my approach to counselling. Children are expected to come into school and just learn their little socks off, but all sorts of challenges can make that difficult. With every course I go on, I feel like I can support them that little bit more.

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Craig's story

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