For Volunteers Week 2017, we caught up with Rachel, who volunteers on the Greenhouse Sports table tennis programme at Raine’s Foundation School in East London. Rachel is a qualified UKCC Level 2 Table Tennis coach, and previously won the Volunteer of the Year at the Greenhouse Sports Table Tennis Awards. Rachel gave us a fantastic insight into a Greenhouse Sports programme through the eyes of a volunteer.
“We encounter youths dealing with a lot of issues, with no one to talk to. The Greenhouse Sports coach represents someone for them to talk to, where they can have their views heard and receive support.”
The programme provides a safe space for young people. It is also a place of growth and learning. Rachel assists Coach Maria in facilitating the programme, which involves introducing discipline and structure into the lives of the participants.
“Rather than shouting, we teach the young people discipline in a different way by demonstrating that to progress and take part in tournaments, they have to show that they want it. This means attending early morning and after school practice, and showing you dedication through good behaviour and dress code.”
Despite being employed full time and having a daughter, Rachel volunteers once a week without fail. Part of the reason for this is that the mission of Greenhouse Sports resonates with her:
“I love what Greenhouse Sports does – going to schools and creating opportunities for young people with fantastic coaches. It has been difficult to find time as a single mum, but my volunteering is so important to me because it has massively increased my confidence and led me to where I am now.