Volunteering: Visits with Luna, a micro hedgehog.

Nic Sykes is a Senior Education Consultant with Provide Education, whom she has worked for over the past 3 years. Nic has been taking Luna, one of her micro-hedgehogs into local Primary schools to meet the children. She has carried out about 7 visits with more planned for September and has some repeat bookings.

How did it start?
Nic has been keeping micro-hedgehogs, also known as African Pygmy Hedgehogs for the last few years.  A chance discussion with her mum led Nic to taking Luna, a year-old micro-hedgehog, into Cliffe Hill Community Primary School where her mum works. The idea grew out of early years learning with the development of chicks and the school agreed it would be fantastic opportunity for children to learn more. The visit went so well that Nic’s manager encouraged her to ask other schools that she works with if they were interested in a visit, and from there it has grown.

About Micro-hedgehogs (African Pygmy Hedgehogs)
Micro-hedgehogs are nocturnal animals who sleep in the day and love to play at night; they can run quickly around Nic’s house and love to play on their wheel and with their toys. They quite like to be stroked; they are less spikey than the UK’s wild native hedgehogs so can be handled when they are not rolled up in a ball. Micro hedgehogs eat cat biscuits, meal worms and drink water but the most important factor for their well-being is the temperature that they live in. It is vital they are kept warm all the time but not too hot and should not be cold. 

Learning Opportunities
Nic says that some schools start with a presentation about the Hedgehogs and have the children prepare questions in advance of her visit. The children sometimes draw pictures and write thank you letters afterwards. They may learn more about Africa or about our own native hedgehogs and wildlife; learning what to leave them out to eat: cat biscuits and water, never milk! Nic feels there is an abundance of learning opportunities for children whose interest is brought alive with the opportunity to see a live micro-hedgehog and be able to stroke it. She says the younger children often want to know how old Luna is and whether she has any brothers and sisters; they learn what a question is and how to ask for relevant information. 

Recruitment and volunteering
Nic described what a wonderful opportunity it is to volunteer in the schools that she also does business with. She gets to go into the classrooms and meet the children as well as the staff that work there and knows the difference she is making when she arranges a supply teacher for them as well as knowing she is sending a supply teacher into a nice school.

Positive Feedback
Nic has received wonderful feedback from the schools and children. Parents have also got to know about the visits as word has spread. More visits are planned for next year that are in keeping with Luna’s well-being, so she is not overworked! 

Schools Nic has visited:
Cliffe Hill Community Primary School    
Bowling Green Primary School    
Salterhebble Junior School

Ash Green Primary School      
St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School    
Shay Lane Primary School
Halifax Holy Trinity Primary School.


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