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Staff Story - Sarah's Story

Sarah's Staff Story with KIDS

What initially drew you to working for KIDS?

My brother has a disability and was attending as a service user. As I was a sibling, my mum put me into the service along with my brother. This was a huge thing for my mum as it gave her the respite she needed. We attended for many years, KIDS was a lifeline for my family. When I turned 17, I volunteered for a year until I was 18 at KIDS Lady Allen Adventure Playground. As soon as I turned 18, I became a playworker working all the hours the playground was open. Then, working my way up, I became a deputy at Lady Allen before moving into managerial roles. Over the years I managed Little Wormwoods Scrubs Adventure Playground, the Hackney Hydrotherapy pool and helped at a playground in Westminster when the manager went on maternity leave. I now currently manage 2 sites for KIDS, Lady Allen Adventure Playground and Chelsea Adventure Playground. I have been with KIDS for 20 years since the time I started as a volunteer.

What was the general perception of disability at the time?

In the work environment disability was always accepted and we knew about people living with disabilities. A lot of workers that worked in a playworker role either had family members or siblings with additional needs or were studying within the care profession (either nursing, social work, teaching, speech and language therapy) which makes the playground so unique – as we have a variety of well experienced staff from different fields. Once we all come together, we provide a safe, fun and outstanding play environment for the service users that we care for.

What are some of your fondest memories at KIDS?

My fondest memories are meeting other playworkers. The job doesn’t feel like you are at work as you are having fun with the children. I love that our job is so unique. We get to be creative making play activities for children. It has also brought back childhood feelings again. My fondest memories are watching children develop and achieve new things through play and seeing the children so happy.

What impact did the service have on the families that you supported?

The service has a huge impact on the families that we support. We are a very well needed respite care facility for these families. We have been described as being a safety net for families. It is also important to recognise that we have not only been here as a play facility for children, although we do this well, we are also here to support families. We notice when things get too much for them and signpost families that need extra services or support to relevant organisations/charities.

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