Matthew started his volunteering in September 2018. He was part of the West of England works programme with Lewis at Southern Brooks Community Partnerships and they came to meet me in Kingswood to discuss possible volunteering opportunities for him.
Matthew had been out of work for over 10 years for personal reasons and wanted to introduce some routine back into his life after this long absence from work. He wanted to keep himself busy and develop his work place skills at the same time.
We met to talk about some potential volunteering roles and after discussing his interests and skills decided on a role at Grimsby Farm which is a Community City Farm in Kingswood. He loved the idea as he hadn’t even thought of that as an option. Together we completed the application form and he got in contact with them. Through the West of England works programme, Lewis was able to accompany Matthew to the first meeting with the site manager and provide free bus vouchers for his journeys to the farm.
Matthew gained a lot from the volunteering role. He learned new skills around gardening, something he never imagined he would have the opportunity to do. His confidence increased each time he volunteered as he interacted with the public a lot more than he anticipated, which helped him realise that he had the potential to go back in to the work place.
Matthew gained a feeling of accomplishment from his role at Grimsby Farm. He worked alongside one of his colleagues turning a wasteland into a community garden. He could tell from feedback from the public that they appreciated the work that was going on. The voluntary role was a stepping stone for Matthew to then go on and complete a very successful work trial at Wrapex, a programme provided by an organisation called Business in The Community. He has received a reference for any future jobs that he applies for and has further increased his confidence that he can one day go back into paid employment.
‘I have gained a lot from the voluntary placement. My confidence has increased and I gained a real sense of achievement from the work that I completed. I worked on a community garden that was run down, but now looks great. Some of the skills and knowledge I learned from working on that plot included planting, flower bed preparation and laying down fencing foundations. It was great to give back to the community.’