Volunteering as a gateway

Volunteering is often talked about as a gateway to paid work. This volunteers week we have Claire our Digital Communications Officer talking about how volunteering helped her into her job.

When it was suggested to me I start volunteering I was hesitant. I had been out of work because of my bipolar for a few years and I was nervous about committing to anything, even for a few hours per week. Despite that I took the plunge and I interviewed and secured a position as a Communications Volunteer at Second Step using my existing marketing skills. I was able to integrate into the Communications team and help out with projects they were working on giving me a real taste of working life again, and I loved it.

Volunteering wasn’t just “going to work” for me, it was a sense of freedom that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I felt empowered to use my brain and put my ideas forward. I felt a part of a team and that made me feel like I had something important to contribute. Coming in to do my volunteer hours was fun and the sense of achievement gained was huge. The support I received from the team was great too with regular check-ins and supervisions, there was no danger of feeling alone.

I, gradually, over the months started to feel the old me coming back, the me who enjoyed working and relished the challenge of being in a work environment. I started to think that maybe I could manage working, something I wouldn’t have contemplated before volunteering. So when an opportunity came up for the role I had been doing as a volunteer to become a paid role I applied for it and a year after starting to volunteer with Second Step I was taken on as a member of staff.

I couldn’t have reached the point of working without the volunteering to guide my way and build my confidence. That sense of freedom that volunteering gave me was invaluable to setting me on the path to working and having the faith in myself that I could do it after being so ill for such a long time.

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