Susan Dodd used to sit at home, after dropping her children off at school wondering if she would ever work again.
Apart from going to the job centre and speaking to her adviser, the forty two year old from Grendon didn’t really interact with other people, lacked in self-confidence and was getting fed up of looking at the same four walls of her lounge every day.
Her last job was in 2003 when she worked in a factory. The job centre suggested the mother of two pop down to her local Volunteer Centre in Atherstone to enquire about doing some voluntary work.
Having two children at school meant that Susan was restricted to doing something in school hours. She has a chat with the Volunteer Coordinator and was told about the centres Help at Hand project and how she could volunteer in the White Hart Tea Room a volunteer run project managed by the Volunteer Centre North Warwickshire.
Susan says “I found it all a bit scary to start with, I hadn’t done anything, apart from be a housewife for a long time, but once I started volunteering I really enjoyed it. Everyone was really friendly I looked forward to going in.”
Susan became a regular volunteer, helping serve customers in the tea room at the bottom of Long Street once a week. She completed her food hygiene certificate and got stuck in organising the kitchen and making new friends.
Susan says “It changed my life. I was out, meeting new people. I also met an old school friend who was also volunteering in the tea room. It really gave be a boost. On the same day I was volunteering the centre started running a weekly job club, which I joined. It was run by volunteers and they helped me to search for jobs online. I was looking for cleaning positions, when something came up which fitted around my children at school.”
The job required Susan to fill out an online application form, which she had never done before. She says “I only had an old notebook at home, which wasn’t suitable for filling out the application. The job club boosted my confidence and encouraged me to go for it. I got help filling out the form; I was shown where to say about my volunteering and how it has given me some extra skills and experience. When I was invited for an interview, the volunteers gave me help and advice on how to present myself.”
Susan got the job as a domestic cleaner and has steadily increased her hours meaning she no longer has to sign on at the job centre.
She has had to give up her volunteering in the tea room, but says “if it wasn’t for visiting the Volunteer Centre North Warwickshire and joining the help at hand tea room team, I believe I would have never found the job, even if I had found the advertised job, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to apply for it on my own”
The job club runs every Tuesday afternoon 1 -3pm. You can get help with job searching, putting together a CV and preparing for an interview. The club also promotes people to get online and runs UK Online courses.
Susan says “It was defiantly the volunteers and staff at the centre who encouraged me and supported me throughout my time there. Although I miss volunteering and all the people, having a job has improved my quality of life. I am now getting out and about throughout the week and have a regular income to support my family with. I would definitely recommend volunteering to anyone in a similar situation to me.”
To find out about volunteering opportunities, you can contact the centre on 01827 717073 or go to www.vcnw.org.uk.