Arlene Stevenson - Manager Woodpecker House
I first came to Kingfisher in 2002 seeking a career change from retail management. Having no previous childcare experience I was keen to accept a new challenge and also the challenge of gaining relevant qualifications in this field which I did through part time college placement.
I started out in the role of play assistant and during this time had the opportunity to work in all 3 settings and see how different each of them were in relation to size of area and volume of children attending. I then progressed to team leader at Woodpecker House and also Kestrel House for a period of time before going on maternity leave in 2007. During my maternity leave I made the decision not to return to work and dedicate my time to my daughter until she was ready to attend school.
As soon as my daughter started school Kingfisher was my first port of call when looking for employment and I came back for a few afternoons per week to help out when required. Within my first year of returning I was back full time as Manager of Woodpecker House.
A lot of changes have taken place since my first term at Kingfisher with staff leaving and often returning too. One of my favourite things about working here is the fact that we really are like a big family. I have met some fantastic people, both staff and members during my time here and have had the opportunity to share special memories and experiences with many families. Seeing former members who received childcare through the club returning as staff or on college or university placements also reinforces my belief that Kingfisher has provided fond memories for a lot of people who have passed through our doors over the years.
The one constant that has always been in the club is Janie who has been colleague, mentor and confidant to all of us over the years and to me epitomises Kingfisher. The work that goes on behind the scenes including many late nights and most weekends to coordinate the finished product that the members receive is huge and is testament to her commitment to her role.
I know that when I needed childcare for my own child I looked no further than The Kingfisher Club.
My journey at Kingfisher began 12 years ago! Little was I to know when I began that not only a career would blossom but myself as an individual working within the setting. I have left a few times for education or on maternity leave, but have always been warmly welcomed back to the setting by the staff, families and children. I am now half way to obtaining my degree in Childhood studies. Working at Kingfisher is highly rewarding with every day along with each child being unique. I enjoy the freedom of play given to children within the setting and being part of their childhood. Watching the children grow, learn and develop within the setting is highly rewarding along with working with a great team. It's always lovely to bump into 'ex Kingfishers' who reminisce of old times. I usually get asked 'are you still at kingfisher?' To which my answer always is 'when my job makes me smile at the end of each day I know I'm meant to be doing what I do.'
My two girls attended Kingfisher regularly throughout their time at primary school whilst I was a Solicitor working in Edinburgh. I was always very impressed with the high standards of the club in terms of organisation, care and attention to planning a wide range of activities to entertain the children at all ages and stages. I relied completely on the club and could not have worked without it. When I stopped work to go back to university my children had already left the club. I was delighted by a chance encounter which saw me offered the chance to work at the club and have never looked back! As an employee I can see the huge effort and commitment of all staff to maintain the high standards I had seen as a parent. The club is often busy and noisy but always fun too! It affords me an opportunity to work with young children which I love and funds my studies. It is also an opportunity to give something back to the club for the service and support I received with my own children over the years.
My time so far at Kingfisher has been very exciting. I am going on to do a post graduate course in primary teaching in August this year and the staff have really supported my development since arriving. This fast paced and enriching environment has really helped me further my knowledge and I have gained valuable skills in childcare from the great Kingfisher Team. At Kingfisher we believe in the involvement of all the children. We work hard to encourage and support our Kingfishers and invite them to join in. We provide healthy snacks and a large variety of activities that has only been made better by the wonderful variety in staff and children we have. What I love about Kingfisher is that it’s a family and everyone’s involvement is key to the success of the club.
I have worked at Kingfisher for seven years. I feel working at Kingfisher has benefited me as I have completed a number of different self-development courses including SVQ level 2 qualification in childcare, First Aid training, Child Protection and Dyslexia at work. I also feel my personal skills have developed a great deal over the years I have worked here as I am now a more confident person. I use my interest in Drama in the club which the children enjoy joining in with the different activities.
I'd say working at Kingfisher has helped me a lot over the years. When I started at the age of 16 I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do when I left school. After working here for a few weeks I knew that working with children was something I really wanted to move forward with and applied to Primary Teaching at University in Glasgow. Now I am in my second year, moving onto third year, and absolutely loving it. Kingfisher helped me realise the need to understand how to care for children when you work with them - you can't just be somebody shoving information into their heads and sending them on their way! The other staff I have worked with have also been fantastic in helping me along the way - whether that has meant giving me ideas for fun lessons to teach or helping with a small worry that I've had. I honestly believe that the club has opened me up to new ideas, will make me a better teacher and has made me a better person.