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Volunteering with Tender: Tobi's experience

Tender's most recent volunteer, Tobi, describes her experience supporting the development of our work for young people with special educational needs and disabilities

I’m at the end of my placement with Tender and I can honestly say that my time here has been amazing. It has been an insightful journey learning about the work of Tender – what they do and how they do it (in terms of delivering healthy relationships projects in schools). Coming into Tender, I did not know what to expect: although I did some research about the organisation, I had not understood the full effect of the work they do. My first day at Tender I was welcomed in by Cordelia (Relationships Officer) who introduced me to the other members of the team, all willing to tell me about their role at Tender.

I have been working with the education team to support them with the development of Tender’s Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) programmes. I worked on the SEND plan, updating it and ensuring that the needs for people with SEND are met. New content and resources were created for the plan from the discussions we had at a play day (a day where we drummed up some new ideas). Some old materials were also retained but we ensured that they were tailored to all settings, including SEND. Research was also required for the new content.

The plan covers issues such as online relationships, communication and consent. These issues were paramount to the SEND setting based on the feedback from consultations and are important in the work of Tender – to prevent domestic abuse and sexual violence by educating young people about unhealthy and healthy relationships. Communication and consent are important things needed in any relationship and with a growing number of relationships starting online – and with students constantly online – it was crucial that we address the issue of a healthy online behaviour. The students are also advised on how they can get support and who they can go to for support. As Tender’s work incorporates arts and drama, the activities that are included in this plan are easy and fun to do, that I believe every student would have a wonderful learning experience.

Following on from the SEND plan, I went on to work on the Trusted Adult Training. This is a plan for the facilitators to carry out with the parents/guardians of the students and the staff at the school. This plan reflects what Tender does and what they educate the students about and how they do it – including the activities that they do with the students. The training also gives parents/guardians and the staff an opportunity to participate in some of the activities (which they can also try with their children) showing them how this relates to the topics of communication, consent and online behaviour, how it fits into learning about relationships and providing them with additional support such as sites they can go to for information and assistance. Discussions also took place about what happens after training and the Tender sessions to ensure that there is continuity of Tender’s work even without the presence of Tender’s facilitators.

Apart from working on the plan I also had the opportunity to partake in a trauma-informed practice training led by Kazzum Arts that most of the Tender team took part in. I was also asked to input data for a Merton primary school project using Survey Monkey as a data entry tool. I got the chance to be part of the consultation that Cordelia and Sophie (the Education Coordinator at Tender) had with Swiss Cottage School and representatives from the Department of Education. Furthermore, I edited a transcript for one of the video resources that Tender uses during their sessions.

Tender is so keen on its interns and volunteers getting the most useful experience from working with them, that they ask you before you start what skills you would like to develop and that skill for me was my presentation skills. I had the occasion to practice this skill when I presented the work I had done at Tender to the rest of the team. It was a great experience to do so and I’m now one step closer to being more confident in presenting to people.

I just want to say that it has been wonderful working at Tender, its members are genuine and lovely people that care and it is such a friendly environment to be around. I’ve had a great experience.

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