July 2016 – Cara Hunter-Rowe

Cara Hunter-Rowe was nominated by VARB.   Here is Cara’s story….    “After I lost my job in November 2011, I had an accident which resulted in a lengthy rehabilitation. As I had a serious problem with my hands (I could not use a pen or cutlery – so not a keyboard either) for a long period of time, I could not go back to work.   In mid-2013 I approached VARB to find a small volunteering job and, at that time, they needed some help in their office. So I started work in their office doing general admin jobs for a couple of hours a week. For me, I needed to know how much office work my hands were then able to cope with and I also needed to get out of the house as I was becoming isolated.  About 6 months later, I was advised of a similar vacancy with ESDAS (East Surrey Domestic Abuse Service) in their office. I have been doing both jobs for the last 3 years.

Both volunteering jobs have effectively provided an exercise programme for my hands and helped in their recovery process. During this time, I have been able to come off the painkillers I was on previously. Volunteering has also provided me with invaluable social contact each week; everyone is very friendly; I have always been treated well and it has helped me to maintain my confidence during this period of unemployment. As both jobs are a 20-minute walk from my home, they have also ensured that I have had some valuable exercise at least twice each week!

As I knew I would undertake office work in the future, I wanted to volunteer doing administration work and my volunteering involved a variety of roles – data entry, photocopying, preparing advertising packs/display boards for special events, helping clients (at ESDAS) with Statements and Applications and general administration.

After 3 years of volunteering, I am pleased to say that I am now well enough to return to full-time permanent work and have secured a job which I start on 1st August. I am looking forward to this with some trepidation but everyone at VARB and ESDAS have been very supportive throughout my job-hunting process”.  The VARB team will miss you Cara!!