Nakeisha finds that working for Cardiff Council can be child’s play

Nakeisha Sheppard is certainly someone who enjoys her work but then, as Cardiff Council’s first Play Officer Trainee that’s hardly a surprise.

Taken on in November last year, she spends much of her day helping children across the city enjoy a wide range of play activities, sports and pastimes, but she’s also gaining valuable skills herself through training courses and hands-on experience.

Over the next two years, the plan is for Nakeisha to qualify as a Play Officer and go on to take on more responsibility within the council’s play team.

“This is the ideal job for me,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to work with children and I took my degree in psychology at Cardiff Met University with this kind of work in mind.

“When I graduated in 2019 I went to work at a privately-run play centre near my home in Canton but then Covid struck and, although I was furloughed, everything changed.

“I wanted to get back to work and found a role through an agency as a Teaching Assistant at Ninian Park School in Grangetown but you were only paid for the work you did in term time. So when I heard about this job I went for it and was delighted when I got it.”

Since she started with the council, Nakeisha has had a lot of training designed to take her up to a Level III qualification in Playwork. “I’ve already done the first part of my Level II and have had training in first aid, safeguarding and ‘loose parts’ play activities – helping children to play using everyday objects, rather than toys.

“I will also get experience of working in the office and the administrative side of things when everyone returns to work in the office, rather than working from home.”

The traineeship, while being the first in the council’s Play department, follows on from the success of the scheme in other areas and is a commitment from the council to develop young people in preparation for the workplace.

Steve Morris, operational manager, said most of the trainees in recent years had moved on to full-time posts, as a result of the training and work experience and by developing the skills required for the job.

“The scheme has worked well for us in other parts of the service,” he said, “and I’m delighted to be able to develop another trainee, this time in children’s play. I look forward to seeing how Nakeisha develops in this role and the positive impact she will make on the lives of the children who attend the play sessions.”

For Sarah Stork, Nakeisha’s manager, the new traineeship is an ideal way to find the next generation of Play officers. “It’s a new initiative for us,” she said, “and if the opportunity comes up again we will certainly look to repeat it.

“In the past we have tended to take on Play Officers who are already qualified. Getting qualifications can be an expensive process but this traineeship is designed to help with that and make the position more attractive. We want to support young people to gain employment and being able to offer training is important.”

The council’s Play Team is based in Splott but does a lot of outreach work at schools throughout Cardiff, runs after-school play sessions and also works with specific groups like young carers and the traveller community.

“The work is really varied and that’s what appeals to me,” said Nakeisha. “Yesterday I was in a school and then did a play session when school had finished. We organise football, painting and crafts for children between the ages of five and 14 here in Splott and also at Ely Youth Centre, Cathays Community Centre, Mount Stuart Primary School and also Butetown Pavilion.

“My colleagues are extremely helpful and friendly and it’s been nice to meets lots of children. It’s also been great to work for the council – you hear good things about how you can progress and the benefits and I’m really happy.

“My family always said how good I was with kids and now I’m putting that to good use.”

  • Cardiff Works, the council's in-house recruitment agency, has streamlined its application processes to make it quicker and easier for job candidates to apply for temporary roles. Applicants interested in registering to apply for any of the wide range of temporary positions within the authority, available via Cardiff Works, can complete an online application form and assessment - speeding up the process that previously required applicants to attend an assessment in person.Jobs are available in a huge number of areas that reflect the wide range of services that the council delivers across the city. Temporary vacancies are updated regularly at The site also provides a wide range of employability advice and support  to help job seekers and career changers to gain the skills, experience and knowledge that will help them transition into sustainable employment in a sector that suits them.
  • Cardiff Council is working to become an internationally recognised Child Friendly City, as recommended by the UK Committee for UNICEF. To find out more about the council’s policies in this area, visit