A guest Blogpost by Milly Bott, Team Support Volunteer
Volunteering at Bridge the Gap has got to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. Working with the team in school-based environments and at the Hub I’ve seen the significant impact Bridge the Gap has on children's lives. After doing my degree and extra qualifications
at University I have always been a believer in the idea that it takes one caring adult, who listens and offers a safe space, to make a difference in a child’s life. Bridge the Gap is a team full of exactly those adults.
Giving children the vocabulary to express their emotions, in a way that gains understanding and opens access to help, is key to the work Bridge the Gap do. I’ve seen this work in action, within school-based programmes of varying primary ages, and the progression made through sessions is unparalleled. Watching children begin to gain an understanding into themselves and how their emotions affect their body physically and their relationships is so rewarding. During the sessions I’ve delivered with Bridge the Gap the children are equipped with skills and coping strategies to work through harder emotions such as anxiety and anger that will help them through the rollercoaster that is childhood into adulthood!
I’d never thought about the impact of understanding there is no such thing as a bad emotion until working with Bridge the Gap. Like a lot of others, angry and sad, were in my mind “bad” emotions. So many children I’ve worked with felt the same and therefore bottled them up and didn’t give those harder emotions the time and the energy they did easier emotions, which meant they were even harder when they did surface.
Equipping these children with the language to express all emotions, and express their needs, allows them to be more open with parents and adults in their life. It improves communication in families and opens up conversation as to how to work through things, rather than situations escalating and causing more upset and anger for everyone involved. It’s so important, and definitely something I wish I had known about sooner! It’s really highlighted the importance of the work Bridge the Gap do for me, those harder topics and emotions often get left out, but we all feel those emotions and talking about them makes them so much easier to handle. I’ve noticed that children are like sponges, they absorb everything that’s going on around them, even the things we think they miss sometimes, and all of that comes out in different ways. Helping them understand what to do when those emotions do surface helps keep them safe and happier. overall, it reduces fear around feeling. The realisation that it’s okay to feel those harder emotions and understanding personal triggers has been a huge learning curve for the children I’ve worked with, alongside this they also get to share and be creative in sessions!
A huge topic for me is self-esteem. Even as an adult the first session I did at a school took me by surprise.
In order to give a personal example during an activity I had to say good things about myself- something you rarely do out loud, or at all for that matter! But doing it and practicing positive self-talk was such an empowering experience that I got to go through alongside the children, and it was amazing. Children started the session struggling to find a good word to say about themselves and left with a poster FULL of all the amazing things about them and I thought I would burst with pride.
Moments like that make the work I do and the work ALL of the staff do at Bridge the Gap SO worth it. I’m so proud to be a part of the team they’re all so fantastic and Nikki and Jen have created such a happy safe space for both children and parents to be heard.