Shrewsbury School

DofE Work Experience at The Shewsy by Alice Leslie (MSH LVI)

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Earlier this term, Alice spent four days working as a volunteer at Shrewsbury House ('The Shewsy'), as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award Service to the Community.

Day One - Monday
On arriving at Liverpool Lime Street Station, I found myself amongst the early morning crowds and in completely unfamiliar surroundings. However, there wasn’t time to waste and I soon jumped into a taxi to begin the two-minute journey to the suburbs, arriving at Shrewsbury House to find that there was no one there. The junior children sessions normally begin around 3pm and considering that it was 10.30 am, it looked like I was going to have a long wait!

Fortunately, I was staying in the hostel for the duration of my visit so one of the youth leaders arrived to let me in. The hostel was definitely an experience that I won’t forget, mainly because it was my first taste of living independently. I had quite a shock when the time came to cook and prepare my own dinner, having been reliant on my mum cleaning and cooking for me all the time! It was great fun though; throughout the week I experimented with omelettes, pasta, and even curry. There were also two other people staying in the hostel while I was there, which was comforting to know.

While I was unpacking, Ryan arrived to show me around and tell me about the Shewsy. I was quite nervous at first but the feeling soon vanished as the other youth leaders and children arrived. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the children’s play sessions every day and developing bonds with a whole range of children from diverse social backgrounds.

The senior sessions followed a similar but more relaxed structure and my first evening involved a trip to a local park as part of a photography project that some of the older club members were working on. The project provided any budding photographers with an opportunity to make the most of the local surroundings whilst doing what they enjoy, and it also offered a change of scenery for the other members of the club. 

Day Two – Tuesday
After a relatively small lie in I met John Dumbell, one of the youth workers, who had kindly agreed to allow me to attend an ‘Every Child Matters’ meeting with him. This involved numerous representatives from some of the local organisations, such as ‘The Academy’ and ‘The Reader Organisation’. The aim was to address some of the challenges facing young people in this area of Liverpool and I found it very interesting to witness first hand some of the ways in which they are doing this. It was also extremely interesting to begin to develop an understanding of some of the challenges facing young people, such as the quality and availability of education and employment
A basic lunch of ham, bread and Foxes party rings followed and then the junior sessions began around 2.30pm. Rooney, one of the younger members of the club and also a professional pool player, beat me in a game of pool and, despite my determined practice all week, I didn’t win a single game! It was such a beautiful day too that the youth leaders decided to take the group across to the park where we enjoyed a game of cricket. I had never played cricket before but this didn’t stop Erin and me building up a good number of runs!

The day moved on into seniors session and I spent the evening answering many questions that the girls had about Shrewsbury School, whilst they told me about their life and schools in Liverpool too.

Day Three – Wednesday
This morning I caught the bus into the city centre with Eva, a student from Germany who was volunteering at the Shewsy. We wandered around in the glorious sunshine looking at the bombed-out church, Liverpool Anglican cathedral and the Catholic cathedral before grabbing a quick but delicious lunch at Zizzi’s and finishing with a stroll around the Albert Dock. I had a lovely morning and it would be no exaggeration to say that Liverpool is absolutely buzzing with its own culture and individuality. My first experience of the city definitely made me want to visit again!
We got back in time for the junior session and by Wednesday I was familiar with many of the children. Now came the difficult part; my ‘initiation’. I had to sing a song in front of EVERYONE. I eventually sang American Pie very badly although, once the chorus started everyone joined in and in retrospect, it was definitely one of the highlights of my week.

The surprises didn’t stop here and in the evening Dave decided to take a group of us to watch a Football Match between Everton ladies and Liverpool ladies. It was my first football match and an exciting experience, as well as slightly unexpected!

Day Four – Thursday
Today was my last day in the club but it was still as packed as the rest of the week had been. Eva went home and I had a lie in, since there was little to do before 3pm. I spent the junior session modelling a garden out of clay with Erin and playing tag with some of the younger ones. I even replaced Dean in goal in the courtyard however; I soon gave up on this when I let in practically every ball that the boys kicked towards me!

Once all of the younger members had left, John volunteered to take me up to ‘the view’, the highest point in Everton and a sight that everyone had consistently said that I had to see. It was definitely worth it; the view was incredible, with the whole city stretched out around me. Despite John’s diet, we couldn’t resist traditional Liverpudlian fish and chips on the way home. My request for ketchup seemed to attract some odd looks and when I offered to share my chips back at the Shewsy, they were rejected!

After dinner I went back to my room to pack up some of my things in time for the Seniors session. Duffy was giving a presentation on a trip to Malawi that he went on last January, and it was useful to hear about some of the things that I might encounter when I go to Malawi with school this July, in aid of the charity Medic Malawi. Duffy was extremely positive about the expedition and the challenges that he had faced. His presentation inspired some of the older members into thinking about taking a similar trip and it was encouraging to see the effect that he had. 
The time came to say goodbye and thank you and I headed back to my room. It was going to be an early start the next day to catch my train back to Shrewsbury and I was exhausted. Nevertheless, this week helped me to learn how to communicate and interact with new people, both children and adults, and I thank everyone at the Shewsy for not only providing me with accommodation, but for making my stay so enjoyable. I had a fantastic time and felt welcome from the moment I arrived. I would be delighted to visit again and think that it is extremely important that we preserve the link that Shrewsbury School is so privileged to share with Shrewsbury House, and continue offering any support or fundraising for the club that we can.

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