Kelly began her time with Works for Us as a service user back in 2016. Two years later, she is now a valued member of our team and will have been volunteering with us for a year this June! We had a brief chat to discuss her time with Works for Us.
Hi Kelly, thanks for taking the time to chat about your experience with Works for Us and volunteering. What were things like before you came to Works for Us?
Well, I was out of work for 14 years and I felt that after dealing with a difficult period of mental health issues and then general family life, it was the right time to start getting back into the workplace to build up my confidence and experience again.
Since registering in 2016, what services have you accessed at WFU and how have they helped you?
When I first came, I attended the Interpersonal Skills course. I had a one-to-one with an adviser called Stella to help me sort out my CV, which I had to do from scratch as I didn’t have an original copy.
After feeling more prepared, the team helped me to find a voluntary position with Age UK which was a good starting point because it was a ‘meet and greet’ role and helped as I was lacking in confidence and self-esteem. I did that role for around 18 months and then felt ready to go back to something admin based, as that’s what I had done for paid work in the past, and to build on the reception skills I had gained.
Works for Us happened to contact me to obtain an outcome as I was a dormant client having not actively used the service for over a year. The phone call to obtain an outcome then lead to an appointment with the volunteer coordinator at the time and securing a voluntary position here within an administrative/reception capacity. Slowly but surely, I’ve started to feel like me again which I think is the most important thing I’ve taken away from accessing Works for Us.
You’ve now been volunteering with us for a year this month (thank you again!). What motivated you to start volunteering?
Having been out of work for 14 years, I was very rusty, particularly when it came to using IT software packages, so I wanted to see how the world had changed within the working environment. I had heard horror stories about the job searching process – hundreds of people applying for one job, and I felt that a lot had probably changed in 14 years, particularly with IT and the use of the internet. So you could say the driving force was for me to get experience and to brush up on my existing skills as well as build my confidence back up in that environment.
Describe what your average day might involve as a volunteer for Works for Us.
At the moment I volunteer three days’ a week with Works for Us at the moment and as you know, every day in a small charity is different! But generally I help cover reception, assist the IAG manager with general administrative support as well as helping the Office Manager with financial/administrative duties. I’ve also recently started to assist with organising our internal volunteers, which includes helping with new volunteer inductions and updating the rota. I think the element I enjoy the most is organising – in a world of chaos, it’s nice to help keep things in order!
And finally, if you had to choose one valuable thing that you’ve gained from volunteering, what would it be and why? I think the main thing I’ve gained is the confidence to know that I am still as good in my performance and in my job roles as I was back then. I’m back to being the person I was in the working environment 14 years ago. My confidence is really good now and slowly the fear factor has gone when applying for jobs. It feels like I’ve overcome quite a few hurdles which I’m proud of.
And so you should be! Thanks for everything you do Kelly - we're proud to have you as part of our team.
Works for Us is part of Citizens Advice Milton Keynes, a local charity providing advice, guidance, and support to local people about the issues affecting their daily lives. Citizens Advice Milton Keynes is the operating name of Milton Keynes Citizens Advice & District Bureau Limited, a company limited by guarantee and a Charity registered in England and Wales number: 800012. Company Registration number: 2265182. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN: 617670 Registered office: Acorn House, 361 Midsummer Boulevard Milton Keynes MK9 3HP