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ESC volunteer Luisa reflects on placement at Lockerbrook Farm Outdoor Centre

Woodcraft Folk is part of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) volunteering programme which is managed by the European Commission. As part of the programme, Woodcraft Folk have hosted many volunteers from the EU over the years including the Czech Republic, Ireland, Spain and Italy.

ECS volunteers have been vital at carrying out essential work at Woodcraft Folk which has seen them take on roles such as supporting with the running to the charity’s centres, running workshops at international camps to helping to deliver outputs in the Communications Team.

The volunteers learn invaluable skills and gain experience, work on communication skills, make friends and get a taster of living in a new country during their time at the charity. The charity is very grateful for the ESC volunteers and it makes for a sad event when the placements come to an end.

Woodcraft Folk recently said goodbye to ESC volunteer Luisa Knust who has been based working at Woodcraft Folk’s Lockerbrook Farm Outdoor Centre which is located in the stunning Peak District National Park.

Luisa whose home country is Germany, started her volunteering with Woodcraft Folk towards the end of 2021 with her placement centred around supporting groups and schools taking part in activities and residential stays at the centre. Luisa also worked on the decarbonisation project at Lockerbrook to help the centre become more sustainable. As well as working at the centre, Luisa stayed with a host family in Sheffield.

Luisa reflects on the her time at Woodcraft Folk:

“When I was entering the plane to Manchester ten months ago, I had no expectations of what my stay in the UK would bring. I didn’t really know anybody. I was nervous and excited for the new life period and a bit sad to leave my family behind. But I didn’t realize that I would gain a new one, an international family. And now that my volunteer year is over and I am leaving the UK, I feel exactly the same as I started. And like with my family in Germany, I know that this goodbye also won’t be forever! Because I created a bond with the country and especially its people.

I experienced, learned and developed so much and was always accompanied and supported by Woodcraft Folk and especially my supervisor Jo which I am very grateful for. Because this is what made me become KP at Common Ground and what made me give a presentation on youth engagement for the Local Access Forum. But I was also surprised how welcoming and kind everybody – not just the staff team and visiting groups at Lockerbrook – but also random people on the streets of Sheffield was.

On my first day, Jo picked me up from the airport and dropped me off at Lockerbrook. I got to know General Council and learned a lot about the organisation of Woodcraft Folk. My English wasn’t really fluent at that point and I struggled to understand the different accents. And I needed months to fully understand the Yorkshire countryside accent! But I managed and got told some amazing stories and funny jokes, for example by farmer Pete, our closest neighbors at Lockerbrook when he helped us out with the luggage of a school group I was acting warden for.

Being a warden was one of my main activities during the placement. Getting the centre ready with Matt and Marvin and welcoming the groups. And some Woodcraft groups even invited me to spend more time with them. Thus, I went on hikes, cooked and sang Woodcraft songs with Leicester, St. Albans and Manchester district groups. And thanks to my good friend and other ESC volunteer Eva, I joined Newham’s district camp.

I can list so much more! I did so much!

Carbon Literacy training, the distance member camp at Biblins and of course working on the orienteering course at Lockerbrook with students from Hallam University… But what I really want to say is, that I felt comfortable in the UK and I honestly considered it home – my temporary home. And the culture left its mark on me.

I love queuing now, I count the people at a bus stop that got there before me and I am much more patient. And I also use the words ‘thank you’ more!

So, saying that, I am sending out a great thank you to everybody I met, everybody who made my time in the UK so rewarding and everybody who inspired me! I enjoyed your company, I will miss and think about you.

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