“I began volunteering at the YMCA in Redhill in January 2015, working as a receptionist two mornings a week. Prior to this I had worked as a physiotherapist in the NHS for 15 years until I became ill in 2012, which resulted in being unable to work. The volunteer post was a way of getting back into the habit of working.
The YMCA are used to having volunteers, so have been incredibly supportive and encouraging in their approach. I’ve felt included and been made to feel like one of the team.
As my health has gradually improved I’ve been able to look around for work as a physiotherapist again, and through contacts I made at the YMCA I was put in touch with a private clinic in Crawley who were looking to fill a vacancy. I applied, and found out last week that I was accepted! I start working there next week.
The volunteering that I have done has made all the difference to me. I can honestly say that without it I wouldn’t be returning to work. It’s been fantastic.”
‘I met with Chrissy from the Aspire Project initially, who then referred me to the Patchworking Garden Project. I was going to help out with Administrative work, however Carmel, the Project Leader, suggested that I have a go at something outside. I started clearing brambles and found this surprisingly enjoyable. I then decided to keep doing outside work instead of Admin. I particularly enjoy the woodwork, and since starting there I have built a Bird nesting box, 2 Bat roosting boxes and quite a lot of plant boxes, which then have plants put into and then sold.
Time always goes very quickly and there’s no pressure to do anything. It makes you feel more worthwhile and there is a real sense of fulfilment and a sense of pride in what you are doing. It’s a positive cycle of practical skills and interaction with people. I always go, always look forward to it, and always come back feeling great.
It’s very rare that you find something totally positive, but this is.
It’s been a revelation! I really enjoy it!’
Linda has worked in both hospitals and care homes in both administrative and caring roles. She recently left her job as a Carer in a local care home due to decreased mobility which has caused her a period of depression.
Linda’s confidence and self-belief was starting to suffer greatly, she still wanted to work in a job helping people and didn’t know where to start as she felt most options were closed to her due to her physical health issues. I then introduced her to Chrissy at Aspire to explore her skills and see what options were available.
Chrissy identified a voluntary role in another local care home, supporting residents with dementia to build memory books. Linda is thriving in this role which incorporates her caring, administrative and research skills; she now feels able to start looking forward towards paid employment again.
ESRA – Employment Manager
Erin was referred to ESRA on a Programme supporting clients at risk of losing their homes and she had 2 young children and had not worked for some while. Erin had no family and friends living in the area so was feeling isolated.
Together we identified that Erin lacked some basic qualifications and she agreed to enrol on a Maths and English course at College. She is proud to have passed both courses and has enrolled on another Maths course surprising herself.
It was suggested that to raise her confidence that she might consider volunteering, and ESRA referred her to the Aspire Project (Voluntary Action Reigate and Banstead). Erin had an informal meeting with them discussing her interests and sensitive information and it was agreed that she may benefit working supporting elderly people.
She was accompanied to a day centre for the elderly, where she was introduced to staff and clients and fairly quickly she started fitting in. The manager saw a keen and eager person wanting to do their best and learn new things.
She now volunteers there 2 days per week and has got to know the client group really well and say’s that they are her family. It won’t be long until Erin finds paid work as she now has the confidence and increased skill set to find employment. She also has a new home.
ESRA – Employment Manager