SPACE has been a part of my life for over a decade now. I started working with children as a SENCo assistant 12 years ago. At the time I also worked with an amazing Family Support worker and Autism Advisory Teacher who were big advocates of SPACE. I spent time with the SPACE team learning about the tireless help they offer children and their families. I was able to confidently talk to the parents we supported about SPACE and what they had to offer and many of my families then are still part of the SPACE family now! When my role changed and I was no longer actively involved with parents and children with learning differences I started to really miss the bond I had developed. I also wanted to give something back to the community now my own children – one of whom also has a learning difference – are older.

Volunteering for SPACE was an obvious choice for me. My passion is supporting neurodiverse children and their families – being their cheerleader.

I can’t tell you how much I love volunteering and I try to be available as much as I can.

I have supported on workshops which I love – sometimes I am not comfortable answering a question and that’s ok, it’s not my job to know everything I’m there to support – and I never feel as if I am asked to do something I am not comfortable doing. I just feel an amazing sense of achievement and pride. I also like to sit in on workshops and other training sessions too – I am continually learning and this all helps me help the families I meet. The SPACE team are so supportive and really embrace you as a volunteer.

I have also supported at lots of the SPACE activities such as trampolining, watersports and driving and have also recently volunteered at a Lending SPACE Open Day – it’s the most amazing lending library.

If I’m asked about what I enjoy most about volunteering for SPACE I would have to say Everything! 

Seeing the children in environments where they feel relaxed, with no judgment – it makes my heart sing. It gives me an amazing sense of pride to be able to see them so happy in the activities they are taking part in.

I also really enjoy chatting to parents, asking them how they are doing, being available to listen. It’s uplifting. I now have the confidence to share my knowledge with them and also signpost them to the relevant people in SPACE.

I actually do not know how to put into words what volunteering for SPACE has given me. Each time I have volunteered I come away so happy, knowing I have been alongside a family supporting them or I have helped a child enjoy a unique experience.

If you are thinking about volunteering for SPACE my only advice would be to go for it. Honestly, you are not on your own. You will realise how much support you can offer parents and children just by being there for them. You are not pushed out of your comfort zone – you do what you feel you can and everyone is there to support you including me!

Thank you so much to Nicky for sharing her story with us. If you are interested in volunteering read on!

Donating your time is a huge help to us – we welcome new volunteers with open arms. Whether you are working directly with our families, supporting our trainers, or helping to manage things behind the scenes, the commitment and passion of our volunteers helps us make a real difference to local Hertfordshire families with children and young people on the autistic spectrum and/or with ADHD.

As Nicky explained in her story, training is always given and you can volunteer on an ad hoc basis or more regularly; you will only ever be asked to do what you are comfortable with.

If you are interested in find out more about volunteering we would love to have a chat with you – please get in touch