"Volunteering on Words for Work is a must" says Amanda Delaney, KPMG volunteer
Posted by Guest blogger
1 Aug 2013
“If you want to step up to something very different, challenge your own thoughts and skills, the Words for Work project is a must. Would I do it again? Absolutely!"
Volunteer Amanda Delaney, Executive Secretary at KPMG, describes her experience of the Words for Work programme.
As we know, effective speaking and listening skills are essential for employability. The Words for Work programme challenges pupils to re-evaluate the way they use their communication skills by working alongside volunteers on various tasks that stimulate thought and discussion around communication and how important it is for their future.
My volunteer experience took place at the Lillian Baylis Technology School in Vauxhall, London. It was a two-day programme spread over two weeks, with a half day of training several weeks prior. The experience initially was challenging. The school is in a deprived part of central London, has a large majority of ethnic minority groups, some having disadvantaged backgrounds, and a large proportion of pupils on free school meals.
I was not quite sure what I was expecting - the first day left me feeling that I did not want to go back. Most of the children taking part in the programme had some sort of learning disability and most had a reading age two or three years below the expected average for their age. The project structure was excellent, although I did feel at times that what was expected left them feeling overwhelmed. It felt like a hand grenade had been dropped into my own familiar equilibrium and I was unsure if I was making any sort of impact with my help and guidance.
The second session the following week was far more productive and I gained insight into what I was capable of by returning and not giving up. At the end of the previous session, I’d set my group some tasks for research which upon my return were completed, together with ideas on what they want to produce.
My group demonstrated that with a strong steer, team work and patience they could accomplish something very worthwhile, and which they should be proud of. Their end product was a PowerPoint presentation on disability in the workplace – working with the deaf. What they had achieved was pretty impressive: thinking about the design and content, together with producing a hyperlinked video, in silence, with only expression to illustrate deafness. We all, including me, had to present to a group of 60 children and teachers so I stepped out of my comfort zone to support them.
The workshops obviously had impact; what they had produced in the time they had certainly showed that. As I pointed out to my group, team work, learning to think quickly on your feet, time management, delegation and listening to others are tools required to operate effectively in the workplace, or any environment where communication is key. These are life skills and a must in this world.
Sahara, Ana and Ekene - ‘The Future is Bright Sparks’ team - were delightful. I can only measure my input by their response in wanting me to come back to school to help them again, their warmth and gratitude - a box of chocolates and a bear hug touched me in quite a profound way. I hope I’ve given them something in return for what they have given me.
The National Literacy Trust's Words for Work programme unlocks pupils' speaking and listening skills while enabling them to gain an insight into the world of work. The initiative is a direct response to concerns from employers about the level of speaking, listening and confidence skills of young people entering the workplace.
Amanda works for KPMG, one of our key corporate supporters through our Action for Literacy campaign in partnership with Dyslexia Action. Staff volunteering is one element of the support KPMG provides.
Find out more about our corporate partnerships.
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