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Gaining in Confidence through Volunteering

"It is fun to come in every day as it gets me doing things, like helping people out."

Volunteer Centre Patchway Filton and the Stokes: Developing Skills - Ben

Ben came to a volunteer centre drop in at Bradley Stoke to find out about local volunteering roles.

As a young student at college with dyslexia and studying IT, finding it difficult to find a job and he felt volunteering could boost his C.V.

He wanted a role that would be based around his IT skills. The Volunteer Centre had a role available including data entry.

The role was initially based on entering data on to the new volunteer centre website, he had training on different database and software. Because he has been an asset to the team and has specialist existing skills his role has developed to use other databases and take on more tasks.

Ben has embraced his volunteer role, committing to attending weekly, he has learnt about the charity, structure of being in an adult working environment. He has developed new skills, increased his confidence and is now able to perform tasks independently using his own initiative.

He has made friends with other volunteers. He has taken up other volunteering opportunities for example helping with a family Christmas party. This role has contributed positively towards his collage course.

“It is fun to come in every day as it gets me doing things like helping people out. Barbara is very nice to me and she lets me have my headphones for music when I work. Also, it is a nice break from home.”

Volunteer Centre Patchway Filton and the Stokes: Building on Strengths - Cora

Cora was encouraged to approach the volunteer centre to see if they had any administration roles to help boost her confidence to help return to work. She was receiving family support through Southern Brooks Community Partnerships and her worker had suggested volunteering could be a useful way of keeping her skills up to date and provide her with a focus. She is a single parent, with ADHD and anxiety, and had been experiencing various challenges around family life. Her aim was to be back in work but felt that her mental health was holding her back as she felt unable to regularly commit to a job.

The volunteer centre had an administration role available to support its work. She knew that she found it hard to regularly attend a weekly volunteer role, so it was agreed that her attendance could be flexible and determined on a weekly basis according to how she felt that day. The role was tailored to utilise her previous work skills in call centres and administration. There wasn’t a deadline for these tasks because it was an ongoing project so intermittent attendance didn’t affect the work.  The tasks included calling organisations to update their details and inform them about volunteer centre services. This developed as she became interested in other administration tasks which she gradually became involved with.

Due to Cora’s isolation she didn’t have many people to talk to during the week so wanted the volunteer role to increase her contact with other adults. The volunteer centre team supported her to have conversations about her life in a structured and supported way during coffee breaks. Through providing feedback on her performance in the role the team helped her to increase her awareness to develop a more professional working manner.

Cora had a supportive and empathetic experience of volunteering, where she was treated as a colleague and supported to achieve as much as she could. Through conversations with the team she developed new coping strategies with her ADHD and anxiety for example writing down the thoughts and feelings she’d like to discuss during the break time.

This volunteer role provided some regular structure for 6 months and a supportive environment to use as a stepping stone to move back into work.

Volunteering Yate: Supporting the Employment Journey - Letty

This year Volunteering Yate has delivered 3 volunteer drop ins at the Job Centre in Yate. While most of the people who have attended have been encouraged to come by their work coaches this venue also serves as a drop in for the community.

Volunteering Yate uses a personal approach to support them on their journey of gaining employment and self-development. Volunteering is an important part of this journey, to gain new skills, confidence and experiences. We also have discussions about other services, for example referring people to the West of England employability scheme, appropriate training, courses and local wellbeing clubs and groups.

Many successful role matches have started with a conversation about the benefits of volunteering and what skills people would like to develop. Often, the roles which have the skills they need are not advertised.  We research and contact groups and organisations that could potentially offer the role and benefit from volunteer support. Groups have been open to these conversations and responsive to diversifying their offer by carving up larger roles into more specific tasks or creating specific roles for that individual.

One example of this working successfully is Letty, a young woman who had been unemployed for 3 years due to mental health and social anxiety. She wanted to work in childcare but did not have any qualifications in this area and the only experience she had was within her own family. Once we had discussed a possible route to her future career I contacted local schools and preschools close to her home. I supported the primary school to create a volunteer role for her. I also gave her information and links to an introduction to child development course run by South Gloucestershire community learning. We had a few supportive conversations to help Letty understand and conquer her confidence and anxiety issues. Letty has now started the child development course and is enjoying a volunteering placement at a local primary school a few days a week.

"My confidence has increased and I gained a real sense of achievement from the work that I completed."

Kingswood Volunteer Case Study: Confidence Boost - Matthew

Matthew started his volunteering in September 2018. He was part of the West of England works programme with Lewis at Southern Brooks Community Partnerships and they came to meet me in Kingswood to discuss possible volunteering opportunities for him.

Matthew had been out of work for over 10 years for personal reasons and wanted to introduce some routine back into his life after this long absence from work.  He wanted to keep himself busy and develop his work place skills at the same time.

We met to talk about some potential volunteering roles and after discussing his interests and skills decided on a role at Grimsby Farm which is a Community City Farm in Kingswood. He loved the idea as he hadn’t even thought of that as an option. Together we completed the application form and he got in contact with them.  Through the West of England works programme, Lewis was able to accompany Matthew to the first meeting with the site manager and provide free bus vouchers for his journeys to the farm.

Matthew gained a lot from the volunteering role. He learned new skills around gardening, something he never imagined he would have the opportunity to do. His confidence increased each time he volunteered as he interacted with the public a lot more than he anticipated, which helped him realise that he had the potential to go back in to the work place.

Matthew gained a feeling of accomplishment from his role at Grimsby Farm. He worked alongside one of his colleagues turning a wasteland into a community garden. He could tell from feedback from the public that they appreciated the work that was going on. The voluntary role was a stepping stone for Matthew to then go on and complete a very successful work trial at Wrapex, a programme provided by an organisation called Business in The Community. He has received a reference for any future jobs that he applies for and has further increased his confidence that he can one day go back into paid employment.

‘I have gained a lot from the voluntary placement. My confidence has increased and I gained a real sense of achievement from the work that I completed. I worked on a community garden that was run down, but now looks great. Some of the skills and knowledge I learned from working on that plot included planting, flower bed preparation and laying down fencing foundations. It was great to give back to the community.’