Post | April 2024 | Volunteer Stories | 3 min read

How volunteering helped Hannah return to employment

Written by Hannah, Voluntary Services Manager at the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity
You can see a head and shoulders image of Hannah. She has shoulder length brown hair and is smiling. Hannah is wearing a stripy top and a green lanyard around her neck.

When we talk about volunteering we often focus on what the individual can do for the organisation, not what the organisation can do for the individual. Volunteering, when it works well, should be a mutually beneficial relationship, where the volunteer gets as much from dedicating their time as they give.


Every volunteer comes with a wealth of experience (often lived experience), expertise and knowledge, it is the responsibility of the organisation to harness this. Each volunteer has their own motivations for volunteering, as an organisation we need to explore these with the volunteer and match them to the right role, to allow them to gain what they need.


Volunteering shouldn’t be a selfless act, its important that volunteering is a two-way street. Each volunteer will want different things from their time; younger volunteers may want experience for university applications, adults may want to build on skills for their career, for some it may be about supporting a service they have benefited from and for others it may be about recovery. This is why its so important to match people to the right role, to allow them to maximise their time with us.

 

My journey into Voluntary Services began with volunteering. After a period of being significantly unwell I had lost my confidence and was struggling to function on a day-to-day basis. My Nurse at the time suggested volunteering to rebuild confidence and have some structure and purpose. Truthfully the idea felt incredibly daunting, the thought of a regular commitment and being part of a team of people felt very overwhelming.


I began by applying to my local NHS Trust where I was using mental health services, I wanted to give back to something I benefited from and I knew they would be supportive and understanding of my mental health challenges. I applied and it took several weeks to hear back, the department was swamped and so I offered to support the team with administration as I loved organising! I began with small tasks at first, scanning documents and stapling files. These may have been small but they felt like big achievements to me at the time, and I knew I was helping and making a difference.


Slowly, as my confidence grew, I was given bigger tasks with more responsibility, and I found myself looking forward to coming to volunteer and socialise with my team. I was encouraged to take on more as I felt more and more confident and eventually found myself supporting with the admin around volunteer recruitment. I loved liaising with people and having a purpose and eventually I was offered a part-time paid role in the team.

 

After some time in the team my confidence had grown and I began looking for full-time work. This was a big step for me but it felt like fate when a role opened up at the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity doing recruitment for the voluntary services team. Leaping into full time work was a big change and for the first few months I came home and flopped on the sofa each night, completely exhausted!


As time went on I became used to working full time and of course I was well supported in this transition by my manager. I slowly worked my way through the team over the years, eventually becoming manager of the department, a role I am incredibly grateful for and get so much satisfaction from.

 

Volunteering was vital to my journey into paid work and a huge part of my recovery, without the opportunity to build my confidence slowly I'm not sure I would have taken the leap into paid work.


Volunteering was so fundamental to me that I feel passionate about supporting others into volunteering. Whether that’s to gain new skills, return to employment or simply give back, I feel strongly that I want to support people in using volunteering to support their own needs.


VolunteerCambs! is a fantastic way of finding new volunteers and helping identify what volunteers hope to gain from their time with an organisation, ensuring volunteers are matched with the right organisation and the right role. As a charity we are benefiting from this new site and its features to allow us to make every moment count, not just for those using our services, but for our volunteers too.

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