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Kris Davies talks a little bit about his volunteering contributions to ACE Cardiff. Kris volunteers at ACE on Saturdays helping with the Learning Clubs.

ACE Cardiff was created in 2006 by Gerry Puttock and began their work by helping people who were unemployed get into work. The charity has continued to evolve over the years to meet the needs of Butetown and in 2010 the Learning Club at ACE was opened. Since then, numerous other projects and programs continue to serve Butetown and surrounding areas.


The Chronicle Project is a community heritage project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and run by VCS Cymru with the aims to document the history of volunteering in Cardiff, from 1914 to 2014.

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[Audio Header]

We will now begin recording the interview with Kris Davies.
The recording takes place on the March 3rd 2017.
The volunteer present is Lara Taffer.
And this recording is going to be collected as an oral history and will be part of the Chronicle
Project, a project led by VCS Cymru and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

LT = Lara Taffer (interviewer), KD = Kris Davies (interviewee).

Transcript of interview

[0:02-0:11 : Introduction]
KD: Evening, my name is Kris Davies, I’m a big fan of rugby, work and the gym.

LT: Are you from Cardiff?

[0:14-0:25 : The Valleys]
KD: I’m not, I’m from a place called Glyn Ceiriog it’s 15 miles north of Port Talbot or Aberafon, deep in the valleys.

LT: And when did you move to Cardiff?

[0:27-0:40 : In and out of Cardiff]
KD: I moved to Cardiff in 2002 after I finished university and moved in with my father. Then I moved out of Cardiff then I moved back into Cardiff and then I’ve moved back out of Cardiff.

LT: And so how did you get involved in volunteering?

[0:45-1:00 : Kickstarting volunteering]
KD: It was actually on a facebook post on facebook, and somebody replied and said “it’s all well and good saying that but you don’t actually do anything about it” so I decided to something about it.

LT: And was that joining ACE or did you do anything before that?

[1:05-1:14 : Searching for volunteer work]
KD: There was nothing before that, there used to be a job search website for volunteers and I looked on that and I looked for whatever interested me.

LT: And so you found ACE, and why did ACE interest you?

[1:17-1:29 : Fan of literacy]
KD: I’ve always been a big fan and advocate of literacy, and I think books are a great way to get out in certain places.

LT: And what is your volunteering role at ACE, what exactly do you do?

[1:34-1:44 : Reading and Maths]
KD: I help the children with listening to their reading or helping them with words, I take them with Maths sometimes and help them with their maths problems.

LT: And what does ACE do as an organisation?

[1:51-2:03 : Afterschool club]
KD: From my understanding ACE is an after school club that helps kids of all ages with literacy and maths and problems they may have with those.

LT: And did you observe volunteering while growing up?

[2:10-2:19 : Mother’s influence]
KD: My mother used to volunteer in the local school to help the children with difficulties, to help them with their reading.

LT: Do you think that influenced [you] maybe?

KD: Probably did.

LT: While volunteering have you met anyone that has greatly impacted your life?

[2:31-2:35 : Helping lots of children]
KD: Not individually, I think they all have an impact at the end of the day. You don’t generally tend to help one child you help lots, so it would be wrong just to take out an individual and say this person that person.

LT: And so you go every saturday to ACE?

[2:50-3:02 : Most Saturdays]
KD: I go about 3 saturdays a month, because I have to get up early and catch the train down and some saturdays after a working week I just need the break.

LT: And so when you arrive at ACE can you give me a description of what you do?

[3:11-3:42 : Daily tasks]
KD: Well when I get there I then help set up the room. At about quarter to ten then I’ll go down and start taking the register of all the kids who come in, I’ll do that until about quarter past ten, very rarely anyone shows up after that. After that I’ll go back upstairs and go in and do what's needed. If one of the women’s not there I generally will take the maths lesson which isn’t brilliant as maths isn’t my strong point, but I’ll do anything to help out.

LT: And how many other volunteers are present on saturday?

[3:46-4:02 : Volunteers]
KD: Roughly I’d say between 7 and 10 off the top of my head, but that obviously varies, life gets in the way. A lot of them now are students with the college . . . sixth formers.

LT: Okay, what kind of children come into ACE?

[4:06-4:44 : Reading, writing and maths]
KD: The ones I deal with are between I wanna say 6 and 9 but some may be 7 or 8. They’re mostly Asian background so English may not be their first language so they may struggle with that, some kids may be just a bit more hyper and maybe don’t sit through class properly and can't concentrate as much so they maybe lose out with reading and writing and Maths in school because they don’t generally have the concentration levels that they need.

LT: And so is it run like a homework club or do you create your own activities to work with them and develop skills?

[4:51-5:45 : English, Maths and games]
KD: Basically they’ll all read a book to start off with so it’ll help their reading and when that's done we then do general comprehension tasks, so search a dictionary to find a word then find the meaning of that word and form a sentence. They’ve been focusing alot on the different sounds, CH and TH and then that’ll be split and then they’ll do roughly about 45 minutes of Maths, times tables, divisions, there's a small quiz at the beginning to see how quickly they can do addings and then we play a game at the end whether it’s snakes and ladders or we’ve started doing word bingo at the minute which the kids seem to love.

LT: Do you have any kind of standout memories of working with the kids?

KD: Not really, again you don’t focus on that you just want to help the kids, I don’t focus and remember what I’m helping them with as long as at the end of the year it seems like they've got better than they were when they came in at the beginning of the year that's all that really counts.

LT: Does volunteering impact any other areas of your life?

KD: It doesn’t no, it’s just something that I do I work my life around it.

LT: Have you influenced anyone else to volunteer or inspired them to join in?

KD: I’ve tried to get people to do it but I don't think they want to get up on a saturday morning at the end of the day.

LT: Are there any frustrations or disappointments that you have while you’re doing your volunteer work, anything that you wish you could change?

KD: Not really sometimes you feel like the kids aren't playing too much attention and you wish you could help them understand more but at the end of the day they're 6 and 9 you can't sit them down and set out their future for them and tell them if it doesn't happen this way - because they won't listen, so that can be frustrating but you just gotta roll with it and keep on.

LT: Do you think that volunteering helps you get to know your community better?

[7:23-7:46 : New areas in Cardiff]
KD: No because I live in Caerphilly and volunteer in Cardiff so my local community probably not, but I spend a lot of my time in Cardiff so I get to know different parts of Cardiff and obviously I know different sections now of Cardiff that I wouldn't have experienced if I was just living in cardiff or out drinking with my friends in cardiff.

LT: But do you think that your volunteering impacts the community that you work within?

[7:51-8:15 : Long term affect]
KD: I think volunteering always has an impact on the community regardless, at the end of the day these kids are going to benefit from volunteers later in life, they'll look back on it and go “actually that volunteering or that volunteer helped me at a certain time”, so it may not benefit the community straight away but it’s always gonna have a long term effect rather than a short term effect.

LT: How do you feel as a volunteer knowing that maybe the work that you’ve put in now isn’t going to pay off now until much later, and maybe you won’t get recognised, does that ever bother you?

KD: It’s not about recognition it’s about helping people.

LT: Do you have any advice or words of inspiration that might encourage other people to volunteer?

KD: I think it’s up to the individual whether they feel they can do it whether they feel they’ve got the time to do it, whether they feel they've got the need to do it, whether they want to do it if you’re gonna half hearted volunteer there's no point doing it. So you either do it or you don't, if you're inspired to do it then you're inspired to do it, it shouldn't take somebody else to inspire you to do it. 9 times out of 10 despite the fact that it took somebody to basically call me out on it it was something I was looking into before but always put off. If your gonna volunteer just volunteer, give your time don't half heart it.

LT: Do you think there are any particular barriers that might prevent people from volunteering?

[9:32-10:08 : Family commitments]
KD: Well you know there's the standard life stuff the time you may need to take to volunteer, well that will impact your life when you’ve got other areas. I’m lucky I’ve got no kids and i’m single so I don’t have to worry about families whereas some people may have to worry about their families and the time volunteering will take away from that, that's not to say that you can't do that, you've got to try and work volunteering around your life and then once you've done that everything will just click into place.

LT: So there hasn't been other groups that you’re involved with, just ACE?

KD: Just ACE . . . well technically this [laughs].

LT: Oh this is volunteering [laughs] . . . If you had to define volunteering, like an oxford English dictionary definition, how would you define it?

[10:40-10:41 :
KD: Giving your time to help other people

LT: And is that how you would also say that that's what volunteering is to you? The same definition?

KD: I give my time to help people with their lives, again short term long term I just give my time.

LT: And do you think that volunteering in general, does it contribute to society?

KD: Of course it contributes to society again it may not be short term it may be long term that there'll be ripple effects, everytime you help somebody that contributes to society.

LT: And could you finish the sentence for me : volunteering is . . .

KD: Volunteering is fun, frustrating but fun.

LT: As a volunteer at ACE do you like hang out with the other volunteers? Is there kind of social culture around it with the other volunteers?

[11:50-12:23 : Socialising]
KD: They do often have social meetings and i’ll generally go to those, outside of that because everyone comes from different parts of life and different parts of Cardiff or Caerphilly or Barry, there's not really a kind of culture. And a saturday morning everybody then has to go off and do what they may need to do. So we socialise when there are social events but beyond that there's not much socialising to be honest.

LT: What kind of social events?

KD: Going to a pub for a couple of drink, one kind of social event in Wales, going to the pub for a couple of drinks [laughs].

LT: Does ACE do anything else? I know you're involved with the children but do you have other branches?

KD: I believe so, but i’ve never looked into that because [you’ve got your role] I know what I’m doing. If they asked me to do something i’ll see if i’ve got the time to do it I’d look into it, but i know what i’m doing and I kind of plough on with that.

LT: I sort of already asked but do you have a favourite memory of volunteering?

KD: Again no it’s just getting up and you go in you volunteer and your done, memories of volunteering are more the emotional memories of enjoying yourself rather than actual memories.

LT: Do you feel like you get something back for what you put in?

KD: Yeah, I feel like I enjoyed myself I feel like I’m doing something. I mean nobody tells you volunteering is not selfless is a liar. But I enjoy it and if i enjoy it then i’ll carry on doing it.

LT: Is there anything we didn't talk about that you'd like to add?

KD: I don’t think so, there was a lot of questions [laughs].

LT: Well thanks for your time.

KD: That's okay.

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