Volunteering helped me get my job
Local mum of two, Ludmila Novosjolova, 39, has been a volunteer Community Board Member with us for over three years. She would always bring her youngest daughter Liliana to Board meetings and sessions, from being a small baby, which was always a wonderful reminder of why we do the job we do and that our programme is built upon babies, families and community involvement.
We were absolutely delighted when Ludmila was appointed as one of our Neighbourhood Engagement Workers. We know that we have got another community ‘diamond’ on our team.
I have been involved with Better Start Bradford from the very beginning, before they were successful in getting The National Lottery Community Fund funding. I used to go to workshops at SHINE in West Bowling, when they were in the process of applying for the funding, to input into the planning and the needs of local parents. I was absolutely thrilled when Bradford was one of the five projects to receive the A Better Start grants. In fact, me and my eldest daughter (who was 18 months at the time), are on the celebratory photograph in the Telegraph and Argus when the funding was awarded.
Thereafter, I worked as a Family Support Worker at The Woodroyd Centre for five years alongside many of the Better Start Bradford projects, promoting their activities, courses and messaging. When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, I knew how important it was for my unborn baby to grow up in a safe and healthy environment and I wanted to find out more about the work Better Start Bradford were doing, but at a higher level. I wanted to get involved in the strategic conversations, so I applied to become a Better Start Bradford Community Board Member.
It has been so wonderful watching all the projects develop and grow through the years that I have been involved. The first project I personally benefitted from was HENRY, which gave me a great understanding of my children’s needs and eating habits, which led to me changing our habits to healthier ones for good.
When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I was quite anxious and there were all sorts of thoughts going around in my head. Even though I had lots of early years’ experience and you think you know it all, but you really don’t and I found it emotionally draining. During that time, I really benefitted from the Personalised Midwifery Project, just to have that reassurance, consistency and support was great.
My favourite projects are the ones that get the children outside such as Better Place and the Forest School Play Project. I really don’t know what I would have done without Forest Schools during lockdown – they took us to some magical and unique outdoor areas – their socially distanced group sessions really helped me and gave me hope.
Better Start Bradford and their projects give people so many different opportunities to get involved and experience new things. As a volunteer, I have been supported at every stage by such a friendly and welcoming team. Even their meetings are child-friendly and I have often attended many Board meetings with my daughters.
Lockdown has also presented opportunities for me. I have managed to stay focused, and I feel like I made it through in one piece. I have loved seeing people via Zoom and I have definitely developed my technology skills. I have also become more confident as a speaker and getting my voice heard.
I have just been so grateful for all of the opportunities that I have had by being part of the Better Start Bradford team. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to apply for the Neighbourhood Engagement Workers role if it hadn’t been for the skills and knowledge that I have picked up since my involvement. For me it is such a privilege to be part of Better Start Bradford.