Sam with Sr Cecily Dunn FMA, founder of the Bosco Centre, who died in 2016.
In 1984 Sr Cecily was sent to the Bermondsey area. She was given a hall to work in and there she began to create a Youth/Community Centre for the area. In 1986 she opened a nursery for low income parents to enable them to afford childcare. She used local parents as volunteers. This is where my journey with the Salesian Family began. Some of my earliest memories are within the nursery such as when Sr Cecily healed my grazed knee with magic cream, or memories of the lady with the long skirt and Reebok trainers singing crazy songs … these and so many other memories have been created at the Bosco Centre over many years.
When my time for “big school” came, I was sent to the local Catholic primary school which was then also run by a Salesian Sister, Sr Norma. By this time, my mum was also a volunteer at the Bosco Centre. Going on to Secondary school, I was also able to go to the thriving Senior Youth Club at the Bosco Centre. Ages 13-15, I went through a bad patch, I became an aggressive young person who had a negative attitude towards life. Eventually I was removed from school but thankfully given a chance to attend the Bosco Centre's college that Sr Cecily had by then established.
During my time there, I felt that I belonged and matured within myself. I was given lots of praise that built up my self confidence and made me feel that I wanted to achieve and develop my potential. I decided to do Childcare at the Centre, later being given a placement in the nursery. I enjoyed working there, being part of a team and I also began working in the after-school club that had also started in the centre. During this time, I matured as a person and began to think of the role model I could be towards younger children. I was also being influenced by the daily talk Sr Cecily gave both in the college and youth club. I incorporated these stories into my way of working with the young children. I also learnt from the way the Salesian Sisters interacted with the young people. I saw their kindness, gentleness and the patient reasoning that they used and felt this was the right way to treat young people, so I also became comfortable doing things as I saw they did. Their Salesian way became natural to me as well. I have now been working in the Bosco Centre family for nine years and I have developed immensely from being there. I am now both a qualified Childcare and youth worker, holding an NVQ level3 in both these areas. I have also completed a course in Salesian Spirituality.
Currently I am teaching a Level 1 Childcare course within the college with teenagers similar to the teenager I once was. I hope that I too can share my Salesian love with them and help them find the wonderful person they are, just as I did with the help of the love and care of the Salesian Sisters through the years.