Awards Spotlight - Caroline Crolley at Green Rivers
Introducing Caroline Crolley at Green Rivers, Inspiring Youth Award Winner
How would you explain what you do to someone completely unfamiliar with your work? I put something back into the community by working as a volunteer for children and young people. I help to provide a safe environment for them to develop social skills and to look after their physical and mental health. I believe in passing on my life experiences and knowledge and that there are, even at my age, things I can learn.
I have been very lucky in my adult life by having well paid jobs. However, I know what it is like to have your parents divorce or to be bullied at school. All of which means I can empathise with those experiencing what life can throw at you. It makes it all worthwhile when a child or youth thanks you for helping them with a problem.
Everyone can put a little of their time back into their community and take pride in giving. Last week a woman in a shop said to me: “It is you behind that mask isn’t it Caroline?” She went on to tell me that 20 years ago she attended Dartmouth youth club and occasionally meets others who went there. She said: “They often ask if anyone has seen you and that they want to say thank you for the difference you made in the area and all you did.” I explained where I was now, and she is going to contact me to become a volunteer. I went away feeling like I had won the lottery!
What is your proudest moment from the work you’ve done in your community? I am proud of the building and grounds we now have. Also, recently whilst we were in the first lockdown, we built an allotment for the children and young people to grow fruit and veg.
What floats your boat outside of work? I like to spend time with my disabled mum and my brother, as well as keeping in touch with nieces and nephews and helping them to get a foot on the ladder.
What is your vision for Walsall in the next five years, especially within your sector? What would need to happen and what support would be needed to make it a reality? That we become 'Walsallists'. Be proud that we are Walsall and not ashamed to say so. That each community has the opportunity to have a centre like Green Rivers, run for the community by the community. We need to link with other groups and learn to share what we have i.e., we have fishing rights and other equipment but at times need to borrow mini-buses.
What have you learnt from the last six-eight months that you will be applying in your area of work going forward? As I said above, lockdown has allowed us to develop what we have, so a project that we have been unable to develop is now available. When the first spud, carrot etc. is grown – what a day that will be!