Continuing with our new Volunteer Voices section, this week our amazing Project Coordinator and Volunteer Manager Ricardo interviewed our incredible volunteer Sally. Sally has been with Little Green Pig for over four years, during which time she has been a huge help to us over so many amazing projects, including The Barge project and BrightSTAR. Before supporting Little Green Pig Sally volunteered as a mentor for young people, so she has lots of great experience nurturing children’s creativity. Sally has some beautiful words to share about Little Green Pig. We are always on the look out for more wonderful volunteers like Sally. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, you can sign up here.
Here’s what Sally had to say:
Ricardo: Thanks for making the time, and I guess if you want to start with, if you just want to tell me a bit about yourself, your occupation, why you’re in Brighton anything like that.
Sally: Okay so I’m one of those people that does a whole lot of different things, I feel like everything is a side hustle, I have like five side hustles so… I think ultimately it’s a combo of things that are more people, social, psychological oriented, and then support stuff and then stuff that’s art based and kind of bringing that together. So I do graphic design and then I’ve also been working as a support worker and working in schools for young people with challenging behaviour, who’ve been, basically the kids that have been suspended from school so yeah that’s interesting. And then I write and draw and I’m sort of looking for outlets for that I guess that’s more of a private pass-time at the moment but those things are definitely really important to me I think. Like very much a part of my day-to-day head space as-well I think. I’m sort of thinking about postgrad at the moment as well, my degree was in psychology and counselling and the intention was always to go and train to be a therapist or a counsellor but life happens, gets in the way and it’s expensive and you know you’ve got to know that you’re ready for it so I’m considering whether it’s time.
R: Something to look forward to!
S: Yeah definitely.
R: Amazing and have you been always in Brighton then?
S: No I haven’t so I was born in Teddington, I grew up first in Teddington which is just London now I guess, London seems to just get bigger and bigger, and then moved to Surrey and then I moved back to London as an adult because Surrey is quite boring, and then when I got married six years ago we wanted to be in Brighton, because I’d always gone to Brighton a lot because living in Surrey it was sort of like you could go to London or Brighton, and I just really liked the feel in Brighton so yeah I’ve been in Brighton five years.
R: Amazing thank you. I guess the next question is how long have you been at Little Green Pig if you can remember that?
S: So I think it’s just over four years now because I started in, I think March 2017 was when I did my, February or March…I think it might have been February…yeah so it’s been a while!
R: Yeah great and do you remember how you first heard about us?
S: Yeah I was looking for something to volunteer doing and I think it was posted on Community bBase?
R: Okay yeah we do have it there.
S: I’m pretty sure it’s Community Base, or it might have been, I was looking at community base and I was also looking at Do It, so I’m not sure if it was on there, but I remember it really standing out as being one of the few places where, the few volunteering opportunities that allowed you to sort of be creative in the role as well, it wasn’t just, sometimes volunteering can be a little bit like you’re just kind of setting stuff up, and you know, putting the chairs away and getting the drinks ready and you know that’s fine and that’s great but I was really looking for something where I could get to be kind of one to one and sort of encouraging creativity because that’s something I believe in so.
R: Yeah amazing and I guess that brought us up to my next question in terms of if you’ve volunteered for other organizations before Little Green Pig or whether you do that also at the moment?
S: Yeah I have, I’ve volunteered, I’d say I’ve volunteered as a mentor for young people, and I think, most of the other…. and I’ve done random bits of volunteering where you just show up for a week and take people’s tickets or like stamp them in and out of a race and stuff like that rather than, in terms of longer term volunteering, being a mentor for young people is probably the longest one I’ve done but in general I would say Little Green Pig is so different in terms of the support that we have and in terms of the sense of community around volunteering so, my other experiences have been that like, there wasn’t necessarily much support and you’re just sort of out there on your own, doing your thing, and you know nobody’s really like…sometimes people don’t really seem to care if you’re there or not.
R: Okay that’s great to hear, we’re doing something right then!
S: Yeah, not that I didn’t enjoy doing the other, I did get stuff out of doing it, they were generally positive experiences, I knew that volunteering was something that I wanted to do so I hadn’t been put off.
R: I kind of want to ask also whether you have a favourite project that you volunteered for, in particular, maybe why you liked that one in particular also?
S: I think I really really enjoyed doing The Barge project, that was great and I think just because it’s, for me as a volunteer it was like a change of location and doing something that’s completely immersed in another space and it was just something a little bit, there’s no way I would have ended up on the barge learning about like pirates and you know Chinese restaurants, it was just a really cool space to be in and I think it was really nice having a fresh batches of kids some of whom were really new to Little Green Pig and I think it’s so wonderful because I think a lot of them are used to kind of writing in more of a formal setting, so when they come and they first experience the Little Green Pig approach and how free it is, and I think we had a really fantastic illustrator on board and it was just, the workshops were just really well structured and the kids just seemed to be having such a good time, and really engaging with the project and I know that from that we actually got a lot of kids carry on coming to the clubs afterwards so that was definitely a highlight but it’s really hard to pick because I’ve loved so many.
R: There’s just so many and you’ve done so many also you’ve had a wide range of different capacities which is great to see, and I guess that follows up to thinking about Little Green Pig as an organisation and I just wondered if you had three words that you would describe Little Green Pig as?
S: I would say definitely supportive comes to mind, in every way, supportive of volunteers, the sense of support and sort of family of Little Green Pig, the support of the kids that’s like really, and creative for sure absolutely, I feel like that runs through the blood of the pig. Yeah definitely creative and I’ll have a little think, it’s always hard choosing the last one because you’ve got so many you could pick from.
R: Yeah you can have a think about that and you can let me know. And yeah I just wondered if you wanted to talk a little bit about why you volunteer with Little Green Pig, is there anything that comes to mind, that makes you… like reasons why, it could be the people that you’re with, or like the work that we do or anything in particular like that.
S: Yeah I mean so many things. I think it’s something that I really believe in like supporting young children especially to get into expressing themselves creatively in whatever form that takes, and that’s something I’m just really passionate about and Little Green Pig does that so brilliantly. And I think it’s really wonderful to be part of something where the children are treated like real writers and that what they have to say is of value, and there’s these really, there’s real investment in them, in their creativity and that sense of pride that they get and that we get as well as volunteers, because, like I’ve shown people, friends and stuff some of the books that we’ve done and everybody’s like so impressed, and it makes me feel so proud to be a part of it people like ‘oh wow can’t they come to my school’ and I think anytime I tell people about it people are really interested and excited and they think oh I wish we could do that, so it makes me feel really proud and happy that I get to be part of that. And I really love seeing the kids, it’s so nice doing the after-school clubs because getting to see the children developing and really getting to know them and building sort of rapport so that when you work with them you really know how to bring out the best in each of them as well. And I like that aspect of getting to know people as individuals and just kind of seeing, meeting them where they’re at and going from there, and then seeing them developing over time, and I really love the social aspect of little green pig like all the other volunteers, and workshop leaders and all of you guys it’s just everybody is so lovely and I’ve got really good friends out of it and that’s part of why, that’s another reason you keep coming because you get to see your friends as well. That’s just some of it, I’m sure I could bang on about a lot more but I think those are the main things that come to mind.
R: That’s amazing and yeah I think it’s great to have that community of volunteers coming together, and getting to meet outside of us so that’s great to hear. I also, obviously you know that we do our magic moments in sessions and, thinking about moments that are just, should be written down or something that happens that is like amazing about the work that the kids are doing or anything like that and I just wondered whether you have a magic moment that comes to mind now, that you want to highlight or anything in particular that has happened recently or in the past that you think yeah this was amazing?
S: Yeah I think I mean this one’s a little bit selfish I don’t know maybe, but I did a zine workshop with Monday club over a couple of weeks and I was really passionate and excited about showing them the zines and stuff and having them do it. And we did it and then it was the Easter holiday or something and one of the girls Suzie came back and she’d brought with her three beautiful zines that she’d done over Easter to show me and it couldn’t have been more special to me, to see that direct thing of something that you’ve brought to them, really firing their imagination and oh my gosh suddenly they’ve got this new tool for expression and I was just, it like melted my heart, I’ve have goose bumps just thinking about how happy it made me.
R: That’s a testimony of how amazing your sessions were, so take that compliment!
S: I will I will, that’s why it’s slightly bigging myself up a bit but it’s like, the zines are magic!
R: This is the time to do so, so completely, I echo that. Thank you for that. And I guess one other question is how does actually volunteering make you feel, I mean you’ve touched on that a little bit but kind of thinking about the actual, what is the transaction there what do you get out of it? Because obviously volunteering your time, it’s unpaid so what are the things that are attractive to you to continue volunteering with us?
S: I think aside from the some of the other things I’ve said already, I think it’s been amazing for my confidence, huge, it just, in lots of different ways, because at the time when I started I was sort of, things were in a bit of a rut and I just kind of wanted to switch things up a bit but I didn’t quite know what I was doing I was just trying to make sense of life and where I was at and doing Little Green Pig became like this regular thing that was in my life that wasn’t really about me, it was sort of part of me but doing something for somebody else and then finding that my confidence about just what my capabilities were and feeling connected and engaged with other people and that aspect of sort of, a lot of the other work that I do, because its freelance it’s quite solitary in between stuff and doing something where I get to be part of a team is really amazing especially when it’s such a good team, so confidence is huge and it just, it makes me laugh as well, the kids are so funny and energised you know when I go to the session even if I’m feeling a bit flat or down or whatever before, I know that once it gets started, you sort of, maybe it’s like an adrenaline hit or something but you just are like on, and somehow the energy of the kids is really infectious and it sustains you and I usually come away and I’m kind of like buzzing at the end of it. Every now and again you have one and you’re completely drained by it and you just say I need to go to the pub, but for the most part it’s really energising so, yeah.
R: Amazing, oh great to hear and, this is the final question and I know that you say that you write and I wondered whether by volunteering with us and kind of doing these creative writing workshops whether that’s inspired you to continue writing outside of Little Green Pig, or I want to know if that’s kind of a link there in terms of getting you inspired and creative, not just the kids that we work with.
S: Yeah, absoloutley completely, that’s one of the huge benefits that it’s had for me, working with the kids and seeing how unselfconscious they are and how the joy of creating without necessarily some grand end result, of just being playful and just putting something down and you don’t have to think about who it’s for and get stuck in your own head you just want to get out of your own way so that aspect of freedom and playfulness has just really been something that I’ve kind of felt like well I can just do my own stuff and it can be what I want it to be and I don’t care if nobody ever sees it if I’m having a good time doing it then that’s what matters and it makes me, definitley so that kind of freeing aspect of working with kids and seeing them enjoying it and knowing how we get so cut off from that as adults and we bring all of these doubts and we get crushed by insecurities and sometimes as an adult you feel like unless you’re doing something to a really really high standard that is almost professional it’s like it’s not worth doing or that you shouldn’t be doing it and it’s just giving yourself permission to play and enjoy yourself so yeah definitley that’s been a really big part of it for me.
R: Absolutely and to forget capitalism!
S: Yes! Exactly, exactly there’s so many places now where you can share your work without having to think about whether a publisher is going to take it on, Brighton’s really great for that and of course we had Little Green Pens as well which I don’t, I’m very bad about sharing my stuff I’m only just getting to the point now where I’m starting to think that I might but just going to pens and being part of that people going there with the sort of intention to be writers, even if it didn’t…no it was just nice to be around other people that wanted to write and for it to be connected to something that I already loved and felt comfortable being in that space.
R: Absolutely great, so these are the questions that I had anyway but I wondered whether you have anything else to say or anything you wanted to share or any questions for me or maybe things that we could do, it could be anything and if you don’t think of anything obviously you can just tell me by email.
S: It was a very good set of questions I think it’s covered, if somebody was to, before this I had a bit of like brain fog, brain deadness like oh my god what am I going to talk about and it’s like oh no Ricardo is just gonna ask you some nice questions and you can blab away, and I think there’s nothing really that comes to mind as something that we could do differently or anything else that I would say that I think we should be doing, I don’t know I just, I feel like, I know one thing in Monday club that we’ve talked about is maybe doing some kind of just social once a month, like go to the pub after the sessions.
R: Absolutely now that pubs are re-opening.
S: Yeah, I think like volunteer socials and stuff are really nice when they can happen and it’s been nice trying them around writing but I think maybe some people still are a little bit hesitant to do that.
R: Yeah that’s my feelings about that, hopefully when things re-open we can try and do something a bit more fun.
S: Yeah just kind of a get together and get to see each other yeah it would be nice because there’s so many lovely volunteers that come in and you see them once or twice and then they’re like really nice and I’m like, where did you go? Play with us!
R: Oh and something I just realised that we obviously haven’t talked about Bright Star and I wondered whether you wanted to talk a little bit about that of like your journey of obviously you volunteered for us but then you were able to get this space coordinator, which is an amazing title, role so maybe you want to talk a little bit about that and your experience with it.
S: Yes for sure, I think one of the things that I haven’t said is how great the opportunities have been for me as a volunteer, to sort of have, like when there’s been something that’s appropriate, like I feel valued as a volunteer and it’s really nice when an opportunity that’s appropriate for me is given to me so when the barge project was happening I was sort of recruited, it was like paid as sort of an assistant to Adam because that project was so huge, and then getting brought on board for Bright Star was just fantastic, it was so different from other things I was doing at the time and it was something that was so exciting to be able to be building that immersive space and like really getting your creative juices fired about how to do it so that the kids, sort of thinking about how the kids are going to use it and what would be exciting for them and problem solving in the classroom and getting all my bits organised, I just, I loved every part of doing that so yeah and then the zines project that we’re doing as well is really really exciting and I think it will be really nice to go into a slightly older age group and see how that translates and the focus that, so it’s to do with wellbeing as well that project is really really appealing to me, because it brings together the two strands of stuff that I’m generally involved in in my life which is sort of mental health and psychology and then the creative stuff so zines and that particular project I’m very very very excited so, yeah.
R: That’s amazing yeah it’s just combining both things it’s the best of both worlds!
S: Yeah it is the best of both worlds it’s going to be really really good so yeah. You’re right I think that’s another probably one of the other big important things about Little Green Pig for me so yeah it’s been huge. It’s like really flattering to be asked you know it’s really nice, it’s a confidence boost and yeah.
R: It’s amazing to have you so I’m very keen on everything that you do and Bright Star was amazing so and it is amazing, still going on!
S: Thank you thank you, no it’s great I do feel valued and it’s really, that’s something as well that in the feedback, the fact that we have a debrief after the session is so great I think that is a hugely important thing for volunteers because you really feel like your perspective is valued and is important to hear and I think some other volunteering opportunities that I’ve done, nobody really cares about how you feel at the end of it you’ve just done it and there you go, and that debrief, Adam, obviously I’ve worked with Adam for so long and he was always so good at listening to our ideas and taking things on board, it’s just that culture in Little Green Pig of really valuing and respecting the opinions of people who are working with the kids, it’s a really huge part of yeah feeling part, like you’ve got some sort of stake over how things are done in the workshops you know.
R: Amazing, thank you so much for taking the time to do this Sally.