Lattitude is very lucky to work with dedicated host organizations around the world who support, mentor, and provide wonderful experiences for our volunteers. We have been in touch with our hosts at Tockington Manor School in the UK as they have a very unique story: two Lattitude volunteers, Abby from New Zealand and Alegría from Ecuador, chose to stay on in the UK when the COVID-19 situation unfolded. Their story is of resilience, togetherness, and making the absolute most of their experience during tough times. Thank you to Pablo, Tockington Manor School’s Housemaster, for writing to us and giving us insight into this exceptional story. And, more importantly, thank you for all the support you have given Abby, Alegria, and all other Lattitude volunteers over the years.
Since the COVID-19 situation started, Ale and Abby decided they wanted to remain in the UK and carry on with their placement, despite knowing friends were flying back home. They have been absolute stars and have always been positive about their decision to stay.
The volunteers have helped with the children of key workers in the community who have come to school. In their work, they are always confident, happy, and SUPERB! We, at Tockington Manor School, are very proud of their work and their progress. We have now restarted the school term, following government guidelines. Some year groups are returning to school and these fantastic superwomen will carry on working with key worker children.
Since lockdown started, Alegria, Abby, me, and other people living on site have been doing a lot of activities together. This is to keep up the good spirits and get to know each other more. We are 13 people living on site and this has made it easy as it feels like we are a big family. Abby and Ale are always up to try new things. They have thoroughly enjoyed having the school grounds all to themselves, having meals outdoors, and one night, they even ventured to sleep outside. They took their duvets and pillows and slept on the school field. They enjoyed it and I thought it was a great thing to do.
In the photos you can see Ale and Abby having fish & chips at the front of our school with me, Pablo (Housemaster) and JJ (Deputy Head). This has become a common one since the weather has been lovely and eating out in the school grounds is fantastic. We have taken both girls to watch a Sunset by the Severn Bridge, a beautiful spot between England and Wales.
Also, I have shown them around the local area cycling. This is a great way to explore different villages and places. One day we cycled along the Severn Way, a trail path where we cycled and spotted some lovely cows!
Last week it was half term here, so I decided that it would be good for them to learn how to cook some basic meals and have some fun as well. In the photo attached the girls learnt how to cook paella. I come from Spain and Alegria requested it — it was delicious! They have also cooked katsu chicken curry, Bolognese pasta, chilli con carne and few other dishes. They are doing great!
The last photo is from last Thursday, we took the girls for an afternoon/evening walk to Bristol. We walked around the harbourside and ended up at the Clifton Suspension Bridge where you can see the girls in the photo. We will go again soon for a fish and chips night there!
I have spent more time with the volunteers these days, time that I would not have had if things were normal. This time has let us get to know each other more, we have been cycling all around the local area, many cooking sessions, we have had them over in our flat for meals, and we have also visited Bristol. We have more exciting trips coming and we will be able to do way more over the summertime.
For Ale and Abby, having each other has proven key in these uncertain times and that has made them stronger. They are an example of resilience during these tough times and they put their placement before returning home. The girls have certainly grown a lot in this time, they have always been positive and supportive with each other. The girls have grown in confidence these days and are more mature.
Personally, I think the girls have been very brave staying here and fulfilling what they signed up for. At their age, to decide to stay here so far from home with what is going on it is an example of resilience and determination. Abby and Ale have grown a lot in this time and despite not being able to travel anywhere, they are enjoying their time here. I am enjoying spending time with them, getting to know them more and doing all sorts of activities. As I have said before, the girls are superb!
I joined Tockington Manor School in 2014 and we have been receiving volunteers from Lattitude from January 2015. Having international volunteers is fantastic (I started here as one of them back in the day). They are young, full of energy, adventurous and looking forward to learning a lot during their time here. Children really enjoy learning from volunteers and since they come from other countries, it is always good to find out about their cultures and what things are like where they come from. To have a partnership with Lattitude means having a reliable organisation providing excellent service, we have always been very happy with our volunteers and our contact with Lattitude staff has been excellent.
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