Volunteering Story of the Month - Keri Jenkins

I graduated from my MA at Central School of Speech and Drama ten years ago and spent a couple of years after I graduated working on various community and Youth Theatre projects. Freelancing was incredibly rewarding but financially challenging. I came across Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea in 2012. I had recently taken on a full time arts administration contract with a commercial theatre and I wanted the opportunity to continue doing something more creative. I didn’t want to give up what I loved doing and studied for just because I was no longer pursuing a career in community theatre. As a Hammersmith and Fulham resident, volunteering for Chickenshed K&C was also an opportunity to give back to my local area. 

Seven years later, volunteering for Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea has continued to be a highlight of my week. I have felt incredibly privileged to be able to see the young people who I have worked with grow in confidence, flourish as performers and help to establish the supportive, inclusive and ever-growing community that Chickenshed K&C has become. It is so fantastic to now be volunteering alongside a couple of young adults who were once members of the Children’s Theatre and Youth Theatre themselves. 

Chickenshed inspires, nurtures and puts the young people’s views at the centre of all that they do. Chickenshed manage to create a space in which all voices are listened to and yet the quality of the productions are never compromised. It has been personally exciting to have the opportunity to perform at renowned venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Hammersmith Lyric and I can only imagine how magical, inspiring and significant it feels for the young members to have the opportunity to feel like they are professional performers during the productions.

Seven years later, volunteering for Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea has continued to be a highlight of my week.

Whilst volunteering for Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea, I have really enjoyed supporting members on a one-to-one basis and have loved finding ways to enable young people to access the sessions. Developing my skills in supporting members with various needs has shaped my career. I am now a teacher. I predominately work at a Further Education College and I have recently been made responsible for the special educational needs at this college. I know that my experiences at Chickenshed have helped with this. 

My job is demanding. I work six days a week. What motivates me to travel across London after a busy Wednesday to continue volunteering with Chickenshed Kensington & Chelsea? It remains a fantastic way to give back to my local community. More than this, it is a celebration of the local community; diverse, supportive, and dynamic, it is also a celebration of young people’s views. I am constantly learning from the members, often laughing and always inspired. Chickenshed gives me an excuse to spend my Wednesday evenings taking part in fun warm up games, singing badly and helping to dream up new stories. Observing how the young people work together in sessions is a privilege. Their enthusiasm for the sessions is infectious. It would be hard to leave a weekly session without a smile on your face. I have had some fantastic experiences volunteering with Chickenshed Kensington & Chelsea and I look forward to continuing to support them in the years to come.