Art students get creative for local charity

Tue 07 September, 2021
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Two University of Bedfordshire students have been busy painting a snakes and ladders themed patio and getting to grips with a brand new climbing wall at the Barnardo’s centre in Houghton Regis.

Raluca-Mihaela Grosu and Marta Plizga, both Art & Design students at Bedfordshire, have transformed the external areas of the Connecting and Supporting Families resource centre, which is run by children’s charity Barnardo’s and provides guidance and activities to parents and carers in Central Bedfordshire.

The centre recently teamed up with construction company Ringway Jacobs to improve the garden area and build a new climbing wall on the building’s exterior. With refurbishments underway, the centre opened up a vote to the young people who use the service, allowing them to choose the patio and wall design. The ever-popular board game Snakes & Ladders, put forward by Marta, was chosen for the patio, while Raluca’s colourful wall design was a hit with the centre.

Raluca, who is in her third year at the University, commented:

Wall prep“This was my first project in a public space and on a brick wall. Thinking about it now, I realise how courageous I was to apply for it in the first instance. I didn’t know if my design would be chosen, how to transfer my design onto a large uneven surface, how long it would take or even what paint I should use – but where there’s a will, there’s a way. I love the end result – my favourite thing is the joy and positivity they give to the area. 

“It confirmed to me that getting out of your comfort zone leads to amazing results and I'm super happy I did it and am very grateful for all the help and support from people around me. Giving your time, skills, advice, energy and enthusiasm to the community makes the world a better place, and gives hope to those in less fortunate situations.

“It is a priceless feeling and I’d encourage anybody to go for it and volunteer themselves.”

Marta, also in her third year, was encouraged to submit a design by her friend Raluca. She said:

“I was so excited that I could make my own art piece in a public space. I always wanted to take part in something like this and the fact it was for children to play and have fun with motivated me even more to create it. I have an 8-year-old son and we used to play the Snakes and Ladders board game, so I knew the children were going to like it. My son even helped us a little – he enjoyed painting some of the snakes!

Floor“Raluca and I are very good team players and I knew we could do it – I enjoyed the experience from start to finish. It was something new for me and my art and I learned how to work on hard surfaces and how to manage designs on a big scale. I am passionate about illustration and this project proves to me that making something that you really love for others is just pure joy. 

“I’d highly recommend volunteering to anyone and I hope I can do more similar projects in the future.”

Tony Sleight, Children’s Services Manager of the Houghton Regis establishment, has already put in an order for large playing dice so that children can play the oversized game for real. He commented:

“I’m overjoyed with the support and transformation that Marta and Raluca have created. It was wonderful to meet them – they showed real community spirit. The area has now got a much-needed coat of colour.

“The volunteers were great and brought fresh ideas and designs to our centre. Their efforts will remain for families to enjoy for many years to come.”

Following Raluca and Marta’s decorations, Ringway Jacobs are set to install low rock climbing holds onto the building’s wall. Alison Catling, Business Improvement Manager at Ringway Jacobs, was pleased to team up with the Bedfordshire students to deliver the renovations. She said:

“I was so surprised and pleased at how easy the University made the whole process, they were so enthusiastic about getting involved and were happy to offer extra credit for the students who volunteered their time which is a fantastic incentive.”

Becky Plummer, Volunteering Recruitment Advisor at the University’s Careers and Employability Service, hopes the transformational work done by Raluca and Marta brings joy to the families who attend the centre and inspires others considering volunteering. She commented:

“This project has been a joy from start to finish; the positivity and enthusiasm of everyone involved has been infectious. Marta and Raluca stepped out of their comfort zone to help others and have gained some incredibly valuable work experience to add to their CV in the process.

“If any students reading this feel inspired to get involved with volunteering they should contact me as we have an award scheme for our student volunteers, so they can also gain a certificate to celebrate their achievements.”

Snakes and ladders collage

Details about courses available at the University’s School of Art & Design can be found by clicking here.

For further information about volunteering opportunities through the University of Bedfordshire, visit:


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