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Volunteer Case Studies 

Volunteers from across Pennine Lancashire share their experiences of volunteering and how it has enriched their lives. 

 

 

Kath Haworth

“I worked as a hairdresser in the hospital for 25 years. Finishing work and retiring was a daunting thought so a friend of mine recommended volunteering. I’ve now been here 14 years! I just wanted to make sure I had something to do and now I’ve got a lot of friends here. I really enjoy it, I see people I used to work with and people from my community. There’s a few of us volunteers who have always been together, we have a really good relationship and go out together when we’re not here. I just really enjoy it.”

 

 

 

Mushtaq Ainarkar

Mushtaq Ainarkar is a community support befriending volunteer with Blackburn with Darwen Council and Lancashire Volunteer Partnership.

Job seeker Mushtaq became a volunteer because he wanted to put his extensive experience of working in the care sector to good use.

As a community support befriending volunteer, he is helping a wheelchair user to reduce his anxiety and regain his confidence of being in public places.Community support volunteers mentor and support people who are not family or close friends to help tackle social isolation.

Each week Mushtaq meets his client, who recently became a father, in Blackburn town centre. They take part in activities such as visiting the market, going to the supermarket or simply having a coffee, cake and chat. Mustaq’s client looks forward to these weekly visits as they provide him with the opportunity to rediscover the town which has changed since he was able to visit independently.

The client is growing in confidence, is happier and is not panicking any more when he is in public and said:“I enjoy meeting with Mushtaq, it’s going really well. It gives me a chance to speak to someone and go out and talk about normal stuff!”

Mushtaq added: “Helping somebody to increase their confidence makes me feel proud, especially when you can see the progress they have made over a period of time.”

 

Michelle

I decided to volunteer to meet new people, improve my confidence and gain some skills that may help me to find a job in the future after attending a Help for Health course run by the NHS at the CVS Centre. 

I looked at the Do-it.org website for admin posts within Burnley. I was immediately drawn to the CVS Centre position as it was near my home and of course it was due to the course held there I was looking for a volunteer position anyway. I filled in the application form online and it took about a month and I started in reception.

I volunteered for over 8 years. In that time I have made some new life-long friends, learned new skills as I had no office experience at all. I have grown in confidence and gained a feeling of self-worth

During my time in reception I began to use spreadsheets to look at expenditure. This interested me and I decided to go to college and take AAT Level 2 and 3 Accounting at Nelson & Colne College, while volunteering. BPRCVS needed some help in the finance department and they asked me if I would like to work on a temporary basis 15 hours a week, which I accepted. I am hopeful it will lead to something permanent, but in the meantime I am gaining great working experience in accounts.

I am very grateful to BPRCVS it has changed my life for the better. 

 

Julie

I wanted to volunteer to gain experience in the field of administration, as I had finished university with a foundation degree in Business Systems Management, but I had not worked for 20 years as I was bringing up my children so therefore I had no experience.

After leaving university I was applying for universal credit, at a job fair I was approached by someone from the Lancashire Women’s Centre, I went to the centre, where I attended a number of courses to help with my depression and employability, when I mentioned to Maria that I wanted to volunteer to do admin work, she set up an interview with Carol at the BPRCVS as they were in need of volunteers at this time.

The benefits I received from volunteering were the feeling of being part of a friendly helpful and caring team, the boost in my confidence and development of my skills which was down to the patience of both volunteers and staff around me.

Due to volunteering and getting to know the staff well on a day to day basis, when a vacancy came up for an administration worker within CVS I was encouraged to apply for this role, I was still slightly nervous at the interview because I really wanted this position within CVS. On getting the news that I had got the position, I was thrilled and shaky all at the same time.

Volunteering was the best thing I did without it I would not have gained the experience and skills necessary to get a job, let alone the confidence to apply for such a role, It has done so much for me I am no longer on anti-depressants, I am a lot happier, I love my job and my confidence is still growing daily as I take on more work.

 

Lisa

My successful 25 year teaching career had ended through redundancy and I could not envisage continuing to teach in any capacity. I had attended a redundancy / retirement course prior to leaving my full time post, where volunteering was discussed and at the time it held no interest for me. However whilst I was at home during the enforced 'non-working' period I became quite depressed, feeling useless and that nobody was interested in me or my skills.  For a period of time I took on temporary, part-time jobs that gave me little job satisfaction & I really wanted to do something more worthwhile with my time.

I have undertaken small roles for community groups in my spare time but a chance conversation whilst at a social event led to me taking on a volunteering role in a food bank. This started as half a day per week but the role developed and I ended up 'working' 3 days per week - which after a period of time became too stressful.  When I had given up that role, another chance conversation led me to my current volunteering role.  Again the role has developed but it remains within my capabilities.

The initial benefit, for me, was to get me up and out of bed in the mornings, out of the house, meeting new people, taking on new challenges and feeling that I am doing something useful and of benefit to the community.  Volunteering has done wonders for my confidence as well as learning some new skills which were completely out of my comfort zone.

In my experience of volunteering and working with other volunteers, I can see the beneficial effect on mental and emotional health that can be gained.  It has been beneficial for me to be able to use some of my work and life skills, putting them to good use for the benefit of others.  However, my personality trait is always to take on extra work and try to do 'more’.  Therefore, I need to keep the amount of work I take on under control.

Also in this financial climate I am very aware of the cutbacks in many areas of community work and I do find frustrating the amount of work undertaken by volunteers that possibly should be classed as 'paid' work.

 

Darrell and Dione

Darrel and Dione volunteered with us whilst studying Health and Personal Training at Blackburn University. They gained experience in a variety of different sessions supporting staff within our Leisure Health & Wellbeing team at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.

Both Darrel and Dione progressed into employment as casual instructors at Blackburn Sports and Leisure centre.

They have been very busy juggling their time, studying their final year at university, volunteering and working too. 

As volunteers, Darrel and Dione have been delivering a weekly fitness session to the young people who live in supported housing. They have also been promoting the use of the leisure centre (which is situated across) encouraging the young people to keep active more than once a week and offering to show them around the centre. 

After delivering fitness classes and working in the gyms, Dione moved into the Health & Wellbeing team as Health Trainer and Darrell has now joined the Healthy Lifestyles team in East Lancashire.

 

Hasina

Hasina had worked all her adult life so she didn’t want to stay at home when she was made redundant from her administration role at a manufacturing company.

She had always taken an interest in the activities taking place at her daughter’s nursery at Livesey Children’s Centre – attending its Family Voices Group which represents families – so decided to volunteer.

Her online application with Lancashire Volunteer Partnership was successful and she secured a placement at Hancock Street Children’s Centre. Unsure about what role she would like, she initially volunteered on reception.

Having completed a food hygiene course, Hasina then helped out in the kitchen where her tasks included making cakes for the centre’s cafe and helping prepare meals for nursery pupils and buffets for external events.

Volunteering has boosted her confidence so much that she has recently got two jobs: a casual centre assistant at the children’s centre and a kitchen assistant at a local school.

 

Stacey

Stacey joined us as a volunteer within the Darwen Shop just over 1 year ago, she and her and her guide dog Bella have become an integral part of the team, and very popular with staff, other volunteers and customers.

Here Stacey shares with us how she felt about volunteering.

“Volunteering at Age UK has given me the confidence to be myself and has also made me feel accepted for who I am.

I am able to bring my guide dog Bella in with me which is a big help. I can now say that I have an extended family within the shop. Bella does love a play with the odd donated toy though.”

 

 

Shameen

I wanted to become a volunteer for many reasons:

  • I wanted to do something good within the community.
  • I wanted to gain more confidence in myself.
  • I have mental health issues (complex PTSD) so I wanted to do something where I would be more supported more than if it was just a job.
  • I wanted to meet a more wide variety of people from all different walks of life. 

I decided to become a volunteer nearly 2 years ago. I set up a mental health group that ran once a week.  From there I heard about volunteer roles at Gannow Community Centre.  Since November 2018 I have been a kitchen volunteer at GCC.

I cannot even begin to describe all the benefits I have experienced but I will try; I feel supported, accepted and part of a community (maybe for the first time ever in my life).

Having complex PTSD is very hard to live with but I’ve learned through my role that I’m able to open up.  I have people that support me, give me the kick up the backside I need at times and, most importantly they show me other ways to view things.  I'm also gaining confidence, learning new things and making a variety of friends.  Sometimes I even make a difference to someone else who may be having difficulties.  The benefits of volunteering are endless.

I already have part time employment but I can see how volunteering could help people to gain skills.

I highly recommend volunteering.  The benefits are endless and the skills you can gain will last a lifetime.  The courses available through your volunteer role add to your CV and boost your confidence.  I'm very lucky to be a part of BPRCVS.

 

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