A voluntary gymnastics club in the West Midlands is the second home to a number of key workers who are helping their community during lockdown.
West Bromwich Gymnastics and Trampolining Club runs acrobatic, tumbling, and recreational gymnastic classes for just under 100 members, all coordinated by voluntary staff.
Lizzie is one of the voluntary staff members who works as the club’s Welfare Officer. Away from this role, Lizzie is a specialist nurse in a resuscitation team for Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital’s NHS Trust. Her job involves responding to hospital emergencies and teaching other staff.
Her mum, Lucy, is the head coach at West Bromwich. She is also a volunteer at the club as she works as a vicar during the day. Before this, Lucy was a nurse and she used to bring Lizzie to gym and watch from a distance. She then started to get involved by helping out in sessions before soon becoming part of the team.
"I was interviewed by the Head Coach, Fred Luke about my nursing job and my work life and I was asked if I was interested in gym. There began my journey into coaching.”
As well as coaching general gymnastics, acrobatics and tumbling, Lucy is a trained judge and she is also a British Gymnastics Inclusion Specialist, on hand to support clubs who wish to make their classes more accessible for disabled participants.
Alongside Lucy and her daughter, Hayley and another lady named Lucy are also key workers who work within the club with the many other volunteers.
Hayley works in social care and has been working hard over the last few months to support people who are shielding from the virus. She is a club helper and works with the youngest gymnasts at the club.
Lucy is another club helper whose sons are members at the club. Day-to-day she is an assistant principal at a school in the West Midlands and she is helping pupils get through this difficult time by offering academic support.
As well as the parents who are registered to the club and help with the sessions, there are number of people who help the club in other ways, such as looking after the facility that they hire. The club also receives club development support from their region, the West Midlands Amateur Gymnastics Association.
"Our club is all volunteers - coaches, helpers, officials & club management - with most doing more than one role in the club.” Lucy explained. "We continue to headhunt for suitable volunteers - which is why we know so many of the families are key workers. The operation of our club was inaugurated by our first head coach Fred Luke, and this was passed on to Malcolm Williams and then on to me.
"Most of our volunteers love gymnastics and care for the community. They want it to be an accessible sport for all - hence why they are willing to volunteer. We encourage people to get involved and for those who join, we pay for training and provide mentoring. Some people stay and others move on to paid employment in the sport. We value this, as our wider contribution to this beautiful sport, and will continue to do so as long as we can cover our costs and afford it.”
This week is Volunteers’ Week, a chance to celebrate and recognise the contributions that millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. The gymnastics community is full of amazing people who are helping participants discover our amazing sport and clubs are made even stronger by the dedication shown by volunteers.
If you work in a club and would like to expand your team by recruiting volunteers, speak to the parents who come, week in and week out and see whether they would be interested. If you have a club noticeboard, a newsletter, or a social media page, advertise that you are looking for volunteers to join your team, specifying the roles and times you would be looking for help.
You can find more information on this on our Volunteers page.