Lucas and Carven never imagined they would find themselves working with young children and enjoying themselves doing such work.

After several disheartening rejections when they approached a range of community organisations, they began to consider working in childcare and contacted Barry Beckett Childcare Centre in Preston to complete their Y Challenge volunteering placement.

It was no easy task getting this placement as the boys had to write an application outlining their skills and how they might be able to contribute to the work in the centre.

It would also be fair to say that, at first, both boys were tentative about the work. At the end of the five-week placement at Barry Beckett, both boys are loving the work and are learning as much about themselves as they did about the organisation and the children. There were some unexpected elements to the volunteering work for Carven.

Very soon after we started, we had to help out with a practice fire evacuation,” he says. “It was nothing like the one at school. We had to wake up the children, get them into their shoes and guide them out to the local park.

“Some of the children thought it was real and others thought they were going out for an excursion. We were a bit nervous.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of being the Y Challenge teacher is seeing students cope in unfamiliar surroundings and take up unfamiliar challenges. At school, Lucas can be very quiet but at the centre led the activities in the middle of a noisy throng of little people. With magnetic letters, he helped them spell their names.

Lucas’s advice for anyone wanting to work successfully with young children is: “You have to get down to their level,” he says. “I don’t mean just sit down with them, but that’s important too. You have to think ‘what would they find interesting, and what would they like to do?’.

“The other thing is that you have to be gentle but you have to watch out. Sometimes the children get too excited and can get rough.” Carven agrees: “I never realised how noisy and full of energy the little kids were!” he explains. Both boys are doing a great job and they are also making a strong contribution to how positively our college is perceived within the community.

– Lillian Leptos