The Value of Voluntary Service at Farlington

At Farlington Sixth Formers are given the opportunity to do Voluntary Service. Volunteering can make a real difference to the girls’ own lives and to the lives of those in the local community. It develops and enhances skills such as team work, organisation, communication, time management and tolerance. For many of the girls it can help guide and inform them with future career choices and it can be a useful addition to their university and future job applications.

At Farlington we are very grateful for the variety of local placements which welcome the girls on Friday afternoons. Various charity shops have provided valuable placements and girls are currently working at Horsham Matters. The students spend time working on the till, sorting bric-a-brac, pricing items, arranging window displays and generally being helpful in a customer-facing retail environment.

Two girls are currently helping at the QEII Silver Jubilee School in Horsham which caters for pupils with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties. They give practical support in the classroom environment and find playing with the children extremely rewarding.

Whilst the weather sometimes conspired against us, Warnham Nature Reserve proves to be a popular placement. The girls take part in the outdoor environmental tasks such as clearing the bird hides and planting the heather beds. They especially enjoy having to wrap up warm in several layers of clothing and, of course, wearing the essential Wellington boots.

A long-standing placement has been Rapkyns Nursing Home, Broadbridge Heath. A placement at this beautiful country home will start in the New Year. Set in 40 acres of landscaped grounds, it cares for elderly and frail people with dementia and it provides specialist care for people with neurological conditions. Girls spend time in conversation with the residents, reading newspapers and books with them. The residents enjoy their piano playing as well as other musical instruments. Several have volunteered here to gain experience for a career in medicine.

A firm favourite is most certainly helping in Farlington Nursery. The seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds adore spending time with the little boys and girls there and always come back with lovely stories of how adorable the toddlers are. The highlight is always when they go to see them in the Nativity Play.

Lucy Bedwin, Farlington’s Nursery Manger, comments, “The children in the Nursery love their afternoons spent with ‘the big girls.’ The interaction between the age groups is very special and unique; very different from any other relationship formed either at Nursery or home.

“The children have great fun trying to spot ‘their big girls’ on our afternoon Wellie walks around Farlington’s parkland. Recently, we found them having a yoga lesson in the sports hall, without hesitation the boys and girls joined in, totally unphased by the surroundings because ‘their big girls’ were there!”

Many continue with their placements into holiday time. This may be to fulfil the service element requirements of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, but mostly it is because the girls want to spend their own time volunteering. It is an optional activity here at Farlington, but it is a truly wonderful reflection of the caring and confident girls here in the Sixth Form that they wish to offer more.

Ms Louise Higson, Headmistress, says, “Voluntary Service is a valuable part of the Sixth Form. Studying for A levels is, undoubtedly, the key element of the girls’ time in the Lower and Upper Sixth, but our aim at Farlington is to turnout well-rounded, confident individuals who can contribute to society. Our Voluntary Service programme, along with the Duke of Edinburgh Award and Young Enterprise scheme, develops the girls’ experience of taking responsibility and leadership skills and has a positive impact on the local community.”

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