As I am crossing the busy Shirland Road and then turn left to the Shirland Mews where PiP is located, I try to calculate roughly how many times I have been to PiP during the last eleven months. It must be more than 50. Perhaps 60? 70? Even though I can´t figure out the exact number of days; I am sure of one thing: I wouldn’t miss any of them!
I volunteered at PiP as part of my placement at the German YMCA in Bayswater. Every year the charity has two volunteers who very often have just finished school and would like to do a European Voluntary Service. I visited PiP on a regular basis, once or twice a week, as part of my weekly work schedule at the YMCA.
When I started at PiP last September, I didn’t know much about learning disabilities. Therefore, the idea of working with the PiP students made me, on one hand, really excited but on the other hand, very nervous. That´s why I was even more surprised when, on my first day at PiP, I found out that there was no need to be frightened at all!
In fact, I couldn’t have felt more welcome! All staff members were incredibly friendly and I could always ask them any questions I had about my tasks and the Organisation in general. I usually helped at the weekly juicing and the Yoga session. Mainly, my job was to talk to the students and help to engage in the sessions and complete their tasks.
I enjoyed very much spending time with the students. In the beginning, some of them were a bit shy and had to get used to me, but that changed very quickly. Soon they started to ask me questions and were sad when I had to leave. After a few months, one of them declared he wanted to go on holiday with me and that, as simple as it might sound, was – amongst many others – one of the best moments I had at PiP!
Finally, the students have also taught me a lot of very important things. First, that no learning disability is the same, so all students are different, but that is what makes them unique and amiable. Second, if as you are open-minded, you will find that these people can become very special to you, like friends. And third, because of all that, it will be even harder to leave!
Thank you to everyone at PiP for the fantastic time I had as a volunteer!