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Challengers Chat: Children & Young People Now Award nomination

Challengers Chat November 2018 graphic

For this month’s Challengers Chat, Ella Arbalaez-Rodriguez, our Training Manager, talks about her Challengers journey, the work we to ensure quality play across our schemes, and being nominated for a Children & Young People Now Award!

Coming up this month is a trip up to London for an evening of fun (and nerves) for the Operations and Quality team. We’ve been shortlisted for the Children & Young People Now Awards 2018 in the Play Award category. So myself and some of the team will be travelling up to attend the awards ceremony on 21st November at the Hurlingham Club in London.

Of course, we had been playing it cool, but now the Fundraising and Comms team have upped the ante with their Third Sector Award and the pressure is on!

Many of us have been at Challengers for some time, and doing what we do comes naturally. But it doesn’t hurt to stop every now and then and remember the hard work that goes on every day to make it all possible. All our staff – recruiters, operational staff, trainers, fundraisers and our finance team – play a vital role at Challengers.

As for Play Workers specifically, I started as a Play Worker, so here’s a bit about me and my journey at Challengers…

I still remember my first day. It was 2006 and I was a uni student like many people who are at uni the first thing on my mind for the summer was, “wow, I need a job!” A friend of mine recommended Challengers to me- she told me, it doesn’t really feel like a job! So I applied to Challengers.

I started like many do, over a busy summer scheme, and apart from the obligatory first day nerves it all felt so easy. It was a lovely scheme, with great activities planned and great resources. Everyone was really supportive, the training was thorough, and soon I felt like a confident and effective Team Orange member!

A Play Worker for 2 years, I then became a Deputy, a Leader, and then a Project Manager. I then headed over to the Quality side for a new challenge and took over from Aino, who wrote a Challengers Chat last year, to become the Training Manager.

It’s now that I can see the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes. This is why it’s so amazing to be recognised externally, outside our Challengers bubble. We celebrate our wins all the time on scheme; a child playing with another child that may not have done so before; a young person completing Go Ape, who was adamant they couldn’t do it; a worker who was terribly shy before starting Challengers, but through building relationships with their team and the assurance training has given them, has become a much more confident person both in and outside of work. In my current role I try as much as possible to remember my first months as a Play Worker, how it felt, and what made the biggest differences to me.

I’ve been lucky enough to work at Challengers for over 12 years now and it’s the children and young people that we support and my colleagues that are the reason I’m still here! We work hard to provide fun playtime for every single child or young person that comes through our doors and no matter what we will always continue to play and have fun.

So everyone please keep your fingers crossed for 21st November. We’re hoping for a win, but if not, then there will be plenty more wins to celebrate on scheme.

Find out more about the Children & Young People Now Awards on their website.