Hi, my name is Ayana. I am 15 years old and in year 10. I go to Jewellery Quarter Academy in Birmingham. My school is fairly new; my year was the first-year group so we are the oldest and the first to do most things, one of them being work experience. My school had originally placed me somewhere else. However last-minute occurrences meant that I could no longer go and had no work experience one day before the end on the week, but later that day, school called my parents and told them about the opportunity to go to Stirchley Baths for work experience. I was quite intrigued.
On the Sunday night, before work experience I was so excited… at first. Then the nerves kicked in. So many questions ran through my head; ‘Are the people going to be nice to me?’, ‘What would I be doing?’, ‘What time do I have to leave in the morning?’, ‘Is my outfit alright?’, ‘What if I get there late?’ and they went on and on for the rest of the night. My fears were also intensified by the fact that it had snowed on Saturday and it was still there on Sunday night! The pavements were full of ice, what if the buses get cancelled? Despite my fear I headed out on the cold, icy, March Monday morning, anxious of what was to come. I barely made it out of my front door before slipping and almost dropping on the ice! Yet still I continued my voyage into Birmingham town and onto the number 45 bus. Before I continue, one thing I realised very early on in the week is that I am convinced that some number 45 and 47 bus drivers don’t want their passengers to make it to their destination alive!
Anyway, I made it to the reception area (barely) and met Lana who introduced me to Suzanne. I thought that they were going to dump me in an office and drop a pile of folders on the desk and tell me to do something with them, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was told that I would be pretending to be a trainee primary school teacher for the day. Was I at the right place? This did not seem like what I had dreamt about the night before. Although it partly made sense. When I had spoken to Karen on the phone on Friday; she sounded really nice.
As the day went on, I was starting to like the place and the people more and more; everyone seemed very friendly. Then I wondered, what will I be doing tomorrow? Yet this time the fear was no longer there, it was more curiosity.
For the next four days, I created the Easter trail that they will be using on the 5th, 6th, 10th, and 11th of April. I don’t consider myself to be one of the most creative people on the planet but somehow, I had all these ideas. I didn’t know what it was? The place, or the people? All I knew was that it definitely wasn’t all me!
Designing the Easter trail consisted of many tasks. This included creating the poster for the event, creating the trails and everything needed for them, creating the list of supplies to buy and so on. At first, I looked at the list and my initial thought was, how am I going to finish this all? It looked like a lot but really it was easily doable, and I was determined to finish it; I had no choice really.
Throughout the week I learnt many key tings that will definitely benefit me when I do enter working life (hopefully not anytime soon). One of them being that communication is key in a job. You don’t always know everything, and you can’t always do everything yourself; team work is key. This is especially true when it comes to being somewhere new; even if it’s just for a week! Another thing I learnt was that in a work environment, there’s a time for work and a time to relax and have general conversations with people, not everything has to be about work, work, work.
One thing that being at Stirchley Baths has helped me improve on is my confidence when meeting and being around new people. If you know me, you would know that I am rather shy when it comes to meeting new people. Being at Stirchley Baths and meeting new people almost everyday as encouraged me to come out of my personal bubble and interact with people. It has also helped solidify my independence when it comes to travel etc. Being on the bus, for almost an hour and a half, by yourself, going somewhere you have never been to before, in an area that you don’t know is nerve-racking. Coming here everyday and getting to know Stirchley has been a real eye-opener to the real world.
I’m really going to miss Stirchley Baths. I’m going to miss the long, reckless bus journeys, the people, the heritage and seeing how much they do for their community. I’m going to miss meeting the volunteers that come in and sit at reception for three hours once a week.
One last thing that I would like to say is thank you to Stirchley Baths. You have really helped me to understand what working life is like and debunk some of the ideas that I had about working life. Thank you to al the people that looked after me here and everyone who even just said hello!
Thank you again for this opportunity!
Some of our regular adult stitchers had such a good time working on the Big Stirchley Baths Stitch Project, they didn’t want it to end! We are delighted to announce that we are continuing to run a monthly Stitch Club, and new people are welcome to join. To start, people are asked to bring in their own work, but we hope to start a new collaborative project in the future. £2 suggested contribution per session. Enjoy a cuppa, chat and being creative with like-minded individuals in a relaxed and welcoming environment.
Join us at Stirchley Baths on 22 April for a double bill of theatre, poetry and music to whisk you back to the days of World War II. A shortage of crews to keep the working boats going brought a new breed of boater to the canal. Young women, later nicknamed the Idle Women, who took on the challenge of managing a pair of 72’ narrow boats and 50 tons of cargo.
Come and enjoy Isobel’s War (Kate Saffin) and Idle Women and Judies (Heather Wastie), as they follow the routes worked by lesser known women including Daphne March. Before the Women’s Training Scheme formally started in 1942, there was one woman already working a single boat. Daphne March operated the Heather Bell throughout the war in the West Midlands, and our Spring 2018 tour follows the route that Daphne mostly worked (Worcester Tipton Cannock), sharing insights into her working life as new additions to the show.
Ticketing is through Eventbrite – link for Stirchley Baths here:
There is also a ticket hotline to reserve tickets. This number is 07465 238 063, or you can make ticket reservations through email: email@example.com
You can read more about Alarum Theatre and their work on their website
Watch the video of their 2017 tour on historic narrowboat Tench: