When Splash’s Rachel Poole was finally let loose on a Splash project she couldn’t have anticipated the difference she would make … to herself.
After 20 years of working for Splash, I had never been on a Splash project … until last week.
I knew from watching videos, reading feedback forms and hearing of the experiences of my colleagues, that it was amazing.
What I didn’t expect, was to come back from the project a changed person.
Part of the reason I had never ventured on one before, was because I am NOT a practical person. I struggle hanging a picture or changing a plug, so I thought I would be of no earthly use to anyone.
However, after four days of manning the circular saw, co-ordinating the building of eight benches and sanding down an entire children’s playground, I was transformed.
I came home metaphorically speaking, a foot taller than when I left.
Such was my confidence, I even drove one of Splash’s vans part of the way home and manoeuvred it through the narrow gate posts with not so much of a scratch.
And as the week has gone on, the confidence hasn’t subsided. I’m making decisions faster, getting on with jobs that I put off before and am more excited about life.
Why did I feel like that? I had a good training session before but the atmosphere and “can-do” attitude on the Splash project site is like none other.
You really do feel as if you could achieve anything. And everybody does.
I witnessed people who were probably like me, with skills better suited to the office than a building site, creating the most wonderful structures from a look-out platform and climbing walls to a tricycle petrol station and a 35-seater outdoor classroom.
And the laughter and the vibe coming off the playground in East London, where around 40 of us were working, was amazing. One passer-by even stopped to find out what was going on, because in her words the atmosphere was “electric”.
You bond with your fellow workers so quickly when you’ve got an ambitious project to build within a tight timeframe with unforeseen problems to solve en route.
And, of course, knowing it’s going to make a real difference to the children, really spurs you on.
There were few facilities before we started our project, and what was there looked tired, so the children watching us at a distance, were so excited to see what we would create for them.
In fact, when one young girl looked at me admiringly and said: “I want to be a builder when I grow up”, my transformation from spectacled-office bod to muscle-bound super woman was finally complete.
More about this project:
In March 2021, an inspiring group of people came together to make this Splash Project a reality for St. John’s Primary School in London.
Initiated by Harry Hill and supported by his sons Jonny, Matthew, Will, Rupert & Joshua and a wider collective of family and friends, this project not only resulted in a new Early Years playground and outdoor classroom for St. John’s, but was an important way to reconnect the Hill family through a volunteering experience that impacted the lives of the children from the school and the local community.