Workstart students work their magic at Westfield Park Community Centre

Workstart students work their magic at Westfield Park Community Centre
Nikki Forrester and the mural

A dozen Forth Valley College Workstart students recently volunteered to literally brighten up Westfield Park Community Centre and help those who use it.

The twelve students - Aidan Anderson, Cole Andrew, Gavin Barclay, Kieren Bell, Gabriel Bellington, Caitlin Brown, Enrik Carvatchi, Sean Edwards, Ryan Flynn, Nikki Forrester, Chloe AH Haldane, Logan MacPherson - along with Lecturer Andy Wake and Additional Support Worker David Crossley, got to grips with various activities and projects at the Falkirk centre and in its garden.

They also worked with the ELLY (Enjoy Life Locally) Project - a partnership project led by NHS Forth Valley, Stirling University, Glasgow Caledonian University and Aberdeen University, aiming to improve social mobility and health in the area through community soup kitchens.

Each student chose an area within Westfield Park Community Centre’s running and improvement, within which to focus their skills and learning. Nikki Forrester (19) from Stenhousemuir, (pictured) arguably led on one of the most eyecatching of them all… a new mural for the building.

Nikki, said: “I was so nervous to start the mural because I’d never done anything like that before. We had to plan what we were going to put on the walls and plan where we were going to place all the parts and what colours to use.

“Using spray paints was a challenge for me as it was something I’d never tried before and doing it in the cold was very challenging! It was fun to see everything come together and to use spray paint was new and really fun. I’m so pleased with how everything turned out - it looks better than I thought it would! I am keen to do an Art and Design course at College after Workstart.”

David Crossley, said: “As part of her Workstart course ‘Self in Work and Self in Community’ qualifications, Nikki volunteered at the Westfield Park community Centre and immediately took an interest with the arts and crafts group. I was asked if it was possible for a mural to be painted on the front of the centre, as a visual to show what groups were in the centre. Nikki really took to the process and showed a real flare for creative and practical elements of it. We are very proud of what was achieved.”

Workstart is a course within Care Sport Business and Communities, delivered across all campuses, aimed at young people facing barriers to learning, inclusion and employability, focussing on equipping them with skills and confidence required for the world of work or future study.

Lucy Hawkins, FVC Curriculum Manager – Supported Programmes and ESOL, said: “Having made links with Westfield Community Centre from previous years, this year saw us send a team of volunteers each week of our students with additional support needs. The Centre was keen to get some artwork onto the building and David Crossley, our support worker, who is also a professional artist, was able to support our students to design and create a mural that emphasises the work of the centre. 

“Our student Nikki really showed talent and became the main artist on the mural project, learning new skills and getting great feedback from students, staff and locals at the centre.”

The students volunteered in five key areas:- In the garden, with Lecturer Andy Wake, they built new planters to replace the old worn and rotten ones as well as planting new shrubs and plants, giving the whole garden a face lift.

In the Kitchen/café a group helped with its daily running, meeting and greeting customers and taking and serving food orders, as well as cleaning dishes and sweeping floors. The students also contributed to the delivery of the ELLY (Enjoy Life Locally) soup kitchen project. Under mentoring from Westfield’s cook Adele, students Kieren Bell (19, Falkirk) and Ryan Flynn (18, Grangemouth) excelled in this area, with both signing up to become permanent volunteers of the Centre outside of College time, such as serving Christmas Dinners over the festive period.

Within the Craft group, which meets at Westfield Park Community Centre, there grew a culture of inter-generational learning. Students were learning from the local practitioners different creative techniques and skills, which in turn helped with building self-confidence and esteem, building transferable social skills and helped the students working towards leading a creative activity to share with the group.

Another group of the students focussed on office and administrative tasks, such as creating publicity material for the Centre while learning useful Office Administration skills.