Volunteer Stories: Q&A with Karen Hellewell

Volunteer Stories: Q&A with Karen Hellewell

15 Jun 2023

Volunteer Stories is a new monthly series by The Arts Society, written to showcase and celebrate the work of our volunteers. 

Our volunteers offer their time and energy to help us preserve and celebrate arts and heritage. This month, Arts Volunteer Karen Hellewell shares her experiences. 

What volunteering projects are you currently involved in?

Currently my focus has been on working with Emma Leith a talented mosaic artist and primary age pupils in three different primary schools. Each different project, for example, a welcome sign for Aloeric Primary School Melksham, has only been possible with extra helpers. The Arts Society North Wiltshire members have been a wonderful source of volunteers and we have raised monies through a bookstall at our meetings. I am also involved in developing a county wide darkroom facility at our local senior school working with Vinh Dao and the senior team to offer this facility to other schools providing A level photography courses.

I am also working with a planning group comprising representatives from The National Trust, The Parish Council, Friends of the School as well as staff and pupils to celebrate the 200th birthday of Lacock Primary School, home of Fox Talbot and Lacock Abbey in 2024.

Local author and illustrator Eileen Brown showing Handa's Noisy Night at Rowde Primary School

What does volunteering mean to you?

As a retired teacher and specialist children’s bookseller, my career has been one of facilitating opportunities for children to grow and learn firstly as a governor, then with the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and now latterly with the Arts Society Young Arts initiative. Providing a bookstall helps to raise funds and is a good icebreaker when recommending fiction I have particularly enjoyed. I enjoy the company and conversation of children, as well as organising and working in a team.

What have you learnt from volunteering?

I can develop my passions for books and opportunities for children through volunteering and The Arts Society has enabled me to carry on learning.

What would you say to someone else, who is considering volunteering?

Consider volunteering since Young Arts specifically provides opportunities to work with individual pupils and to work in a team. There is great satisfaction in helping a child to achieve their potential in a new activity, especially important in building self esteem and confidence.

How do you think volunteering helps the arts and heritage sector?

Of all the school projects I have been involved with the role of the volunteer is central, whether primary or secondary. In a busy classroom there is limited space for artistic experiences, in terms of time, resources, and extra helpers. I have seen many children confide their hopes and fears in a one to one setting while focussing on mosaics, an opportunity to concentrate on creativity in a serene setting.

About the Author

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