I started at a new secondary school, half-way through Year 10 so I missed the cut-off point to choose my work experience placement.
I was given a 2-week placement at a charity shop, Barnardo’s. I was 15 and scared of the public. One day, my mum and I walked past and she encouraged me to go in and introduce myself. I was a nervous-wreck.
A man was at the till and I was so shy, my mum spoke for me. Little did we know, this was the shop manager. He was very friendly and made me feel at ease.
This helped me to look forward to starting my work placement.
Monday arrived and I was nervous but excited at the same time. The manager, Steve, taught another student and myself so much within the first day. How to use the till (this was my favourite part), gift aid, sorting donations, inputting gift aid onto the computer and I can’t forget using the steamer!
It may not sound a lot, but learning all these new tasks was difficult to get the hang of at first, but then it turned into a fun routine.
I never knew what I wanted to do in life but volunteering opened up my eyes and made me realise that this is what I want to do. So much so, after finishing my work placement, I continued to volunteer for a year.
Even throughout Year 11, I still went into the shop every day after school to see if I could help with anything. I loved the people I worked with and I loved the atmosphere. Steve and I had such a wonderful friendship, his passion towards charity and creating a safe and fun workplace was contagious,
He inspired me to do whatever I can for charity.
Steve is one of the loveliest blokes I know and the world would be a much better place if there were more people like him. Then again, he is the one and only!
Fast forward to February 2018, I was still feeling isolated and depressed after losing my job 8 months before. Becoming disabled was a difficult process for me to accept. I was at my wits end, one day, so I looked online and typed in ‘disability forum’ to try and find other people like me.
The first search result was Scope.
I knew of Scope but I didn’t know what they actually did. I briefly looked throughout their website and just reading their advice made me feel like I were in another world – a world of equality. Scope strive to achieve equality in our society and changing attitudes towards disability.
I signed up to their online community and posted my first discussion. Over the next few hours, I received quite a few replies. I felt well and truly welcomed. The first time in years.
I noticed a few other members welcoming new members and I thought this was a normal thing to do so I started welcoming new members too.
Not even a fortnight later, after joining, I received an email from Sam Cleasby (I interviewed this lovely lady in another post) offering me the role of a Community Champion. I had not heard of this role before but Sam sent me a guide and everything I needed to know about being a community champion.
The role includes
- Welcoming new members
- Directing members to resources which may be of use to them
- Ensuring the community stays a supportive and safe place for everyone by flagging up any spam and reporting any posts that provide personal information, swearing, putting themselves or others at risk and any mention of self-harm and suicide. We have to report any mention of suicide solely on the fact that the Scope team need to be aware and can monitor further replies and the wellbeing of that member.
- Answering any unanswered posts
There are hundreds of guest posts from different people and they both are amazing and very informative to read!
If you have any type of illness then I recommend joining the online community. I have made some very good friends and being part of an empowering community has changed my life. I would not know what I would do or where I would be without them.
I am hoping to organise a fundraiser in aid of Scope and I really am excited to do this!
So, thank you Scope, for teaching me to accept who I am and building my confidence back up to the top. Last but not least, Steve…thank you from the bottom of my heart for teaching me during my work experience and throughout the year after. You have opened up a whole world of opportunities for me and you are an amazing man. My volunteering journey began with you and I will never forget that. Buk-buk-bah! (Private joke!)