About three years ago Sarah left an abusive relationship and moved to Bolton, where she didn’t know anyone. With a previous minor conviction and now in recovery from drug misuse yet with no family support, Sarah began attending counselling. Her confidence and self-esteem was extremely low and she felt isolated and alone; she knew she wanted to find some purpose again and use her past experiences for something positive but didn’t know where to begin
In February 2017, Sarah visited the volunteer centre in Bolton, where she was introduced to Karen from Step Together Volunteering.
“The one-to-one support with Karen was brilliant. We met up a few times at a coffee shop before anything happened. She made me feel totally at ease. She asked me to do little tasks between sessions, like write down how I was feeling and what I wanted to do in the future. I told her everything, I wanted to be honest and it felt really good and helpful.”
After getting to know Sarah, Karen helped her look at different volunteering opportunities and supported Sarah to apply for a few different roles; she soon began volunteering with older people at a day care centre.
“It was a really good experience, a nice and pleasant environment for me to start volunteering. But after a few months, I knew that I wanted to try something else.”
Still continuing with the one-to-one sessions with Karen, they began to look at other roles where Sarah could use her lived experience. She began assisting as a volunteer at a supported housing provider, supporting people who have experienced homelessness, substance misuse or are high risk offenders. Sarah really enjoyed this and decided she would like to find employment in this field.
“Having Karen’s support has given me the drive to keep going and not give up. There have been little obstacles along the way but Karen has been there to help me overcome them. I feel more settled now, I’ve made friends and I’m even attending an evening class at college to help me with my computer skills. Volunteering has given me confidence and by knowing what job I want to go for, I’ve been able to get involved with what I need to achieve this. I haven’t worked for years and didn’t have any skills but now I do. ”
Sarah has been applying for work and has since been offered paid employment as a trainee to become a Project Assistant for the same housing provider, a direct result from her volunteering.
“I think Step Together Volunteering is a really positive service and I have felt very supported. It gave me the confidence to apply for my dream job and be lucky enough to be successful at interview. I do not think I would have ever got this type of job if it wasn’t for the dedication and support I have received from Karen.”
We will revisit Sarah’s story later in the week to find out how she is getting on!