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Learning and Development - Meet Mary

We would like to introduce Mary, Arc's new Learning and Development Officer. Mary's role is to engage with our clients to help them realise, grow, and be inspired by their own strengths through a range of activities and training. We asked Mary a few questions so you can get to know more about her. 

"What were your previous job roles, and what attracted you to your role at Arc?
After graduating with a BA(hons) in Education Studies with art, I became a Montessori teacher and spent 12 years teaching in schools/ early-years settings in Bristol and Phnom Penh, with a break to be a childminder whilst my daughter (now 7) was a baby. 2 years ago I decided to leave childhood education and have been looking for the next step in my career. I spent some time managing a Charity shop, and worked as a support worker in a home for severely disabled adults, as well as being a dinner lady at my daughter’s school. My ambition was to find a way in to adult education and social work. When I saw the vacancy at Arc, I couldn’t have found a more perfect role for what I’d been looking for. I feel so fortunate to have been given this opportunity to be part of such an amazing organisation, and to do my best to support our clients to engage in positive and enriching activities and to be part of the journey to enable those who want it, to reach their potential.

What does 'a day in the life' of your role look like?
I have been at Arc for 1 month now, and so far, no day has been the same. It’s an exciting and varied role. I am based at Lindley house, so I start my day by joining the handover with the pathway team. This is so important as a way to share information about our clients and how they are doing, and what appointments they have and what they might be interested in.

I then get myself a cuppa and open up ‘The Hub’ which has now been organised as an inviting space to come and have a chat, or engage in adhoc activities. Clients can come and use the laptop, spend time discussing their learning and development needs, use art materials, borrow books and DVD’s and so much more. It’s a busy space, and in between working directly with clients I spend time researching available courses and networking with local institutions/ organisations in order to create a comprehensive database of activities and courses that we can offer our clients.

Are there any projects you are currently working on?
So far, my main project has been getting The Hub organised so that it is an efficient and welcoming space. The clients at Lindley benefit from ‘in the moment’ activities, so when they might be feeling ready to engage in something, we can offer it immediately. We are spending some of the generous donations to buy art and craft resources for The Hub, which our clients really enjoy, and is a brilliant way to build on concentration and self-esteem.
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As well as these ‘in the moment’ activities, we are also scheduling planned activities and clubs. For example, on a Tuesday morning, we have ‘Environment club’ and so far we have litter picked and cleared the front garden, and we will be making bug hotels, bird feeders and planting wild flowers.

I have organised an African drumming workshop, as a great way to bring clients together through a shared love of music and dance. If it’s successful, we will make it a regular activity, and purchase some percussion instruments for our clients to use at Lindley.

A few clients are working together to prepare and decorate the wall next to The Hub so that one of our many artistically talented clients can paint a mural.

We are also working on a fishing club, which has been well enjoyed by clients in previous years. Lots to look forward to!

What are your aims for the next few months?
I am still getting to know all the clients at Lindley house, so my plan is to continue to spend time with those I’ve already worked with- putting things in place for them (such as courses they are interested in, creating CV’s together and obtaining lost certificates for past qualifications) whilst reaching out to people who have not yet engaged.

I plan to work closely with Emma (Volunteer coordinator) to begin to source volunteers who can run activities for our clients, such as sewing, music and fishing.

I want to re-establish a regular group of clients going to Neroche woods to join in with bushcraft activities, and also make links with the Magdalen project, which is a working farm that specialises in education and wellbeing.
Eventually I will get to know the clients in the Satellite houses, and work with them to see what skills/activities/courses they want in order to move forward.

We will also be continuing to develop the wonderful Reach Centre and will be launching Arc Academy. Busy busy!

What has been your highlight so far?
Getting to know so many interesting a varied people has been the highlight so far, both clients and colleagues. It is so refreshing to be working in an environment with so many professional people who care so much it shines out of them."

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