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Getting more when you volunteer

02 June 2016

In the South West of England Prospects run the Work Programme for the DWP. The programme supports people who are long term unemployed gain the skills to get back into work. For many the biggest barrier is the way they feel about themselves. Low self esteem and a lack of confidence is debilitating, it isolates people who find it harder to build relationships and social networks. At Prospects we recognise that building confidence is as vital as creating a good CV when it comes to successfully moving into work.

One person helped is 48 year old Will from Glastonbury. Will has been out of work since 2008 and joined Ascent in March 2015, the programme designed by Prospects to support Work Programme customers. Targeted sessions help people improve their confidence, team working and self esteem gaining valuable employability skills.

Will commented: “I found the groups very positive and was pleasantly surprised to recognize that Prospects were there to help me make my situation better.”

Before joining Ascent Will was living like a hermit with his curtains closed as he shut himself off from the world. By attending sessions Will realised he had to make changes in his life to move forward. Will was provided with a Prospects personal adviser, in addition to being his first point of contact she worked closely with him to find out about his interests. When Will revealed he loved gardening during a group session she encouraged him to get involved in community/voluntary work and another member of the group suggested he approach the Magdalene Chapel (St Margarets) in Glastonbury as they were looking for volunteers to help tend their gardens.

Will approached the staff at the chapel and was offered an interview, the first in many years. Following a successful interview Will joined the team at the Magdalene Chapel. This was a turning point for Will, he felt wanted and valued.

Will has been working at the Chapel since August 2015 and his my life has been transformed. Will recently got back in touch with Prospects to say: “We all need a guiding light sometimes, and a voice that resonates hope and support, if just to remind us all isn't lost, that voice was Prospects.”

The Chapel was the right environment for Will who says: “The people are really friendly and I am getting great feedback. It’s great to feel part of the world again and I can now envisage this leading to me returning to paid employment with my new found confidence and increasing social network.

“My old friends can’t believe I’m the same person and they genuinely tell me how well I look. A new world has opened for me and it’s given me back what I desperately needed – something positive in my life. The support from Prospects and my voluntary job have encouraged me to adopt a ‘can-do’ approach and I feel that overall it has improved my health. I have what I desperately needed – positivity and support which has increased my confidence and made me realise I can achieve good things in life.”

Will is also saving the charity money. The current contractor is training Will in lawn management, so he can takeover these tasks and reduce overheads for the Chapel.

Volunteering has helped Will rejoin his local community and gain the self worth that he was missing. But the last word goes to Will: “The world is opening up to me as a flower in the first, warm rays of spring sunshine. Do watch this space, you won't be disappointed! Many, many thanks again to all at Prospects.”


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