Twenty-one-year-old Ellen Dundee from Ballymena is one of a number of students taking part in a Barnardo’s NI student volunteering scheme to help migrant and refugee children integrate into their new communities by helping them develop their English.
Ellen has been volunteering with a seven-year-old girl from Sudan since last autumn. Arranged and supported by Barnardo’s NI she and her pupil meet once a week for an hour and they use a range of play techniques to help with language development. The volunteering is one hour a week and Ellen says she is well supported by Barnardo’s NI.
“It’s been really interesting and challenging. We play Junior Scrabble and story dice to help her with her vocabulary and tenses,” Ellen said.
She added: “I’m amazed at how far she has come since we started. The family speak Arabic at home but just the one hour extra week seems to really help with her language skills.
“It’s made me more confident working with children. At the beginning it was a bit difficult to juggle with my studies but now it feels like a nice break. It’s something completely different and the girl I teach is always so excited to be here. Before we met the children Barnardo’s NI provided safeguarding and cultural awareness training. The staff are also on hand to provide advice and guidance and suggest new games and books we can use in the lessons.”
“Before we met the children Barnardo’s NI provided safeguarding and cultural awareness training. The staff are also on hand to provide advice and guidance and suggest new games and books we can use in the lessons.”
Barnardo’s NI has over 200 volunteers of all ages, including many students, working in a variety of capacities across its children’s services.
This year’s Student Volunteering Week (February 24 to March 2) supported by the National Union of Students, is a chance for Barnardo’s to celebrate our student volunteers and thank them for giving their time freely.