Geraldine has recently begun volunteering in one of our offices supporting our Money Advice service with administration as well as helping on reception. We spoke to Geraldine about her experiences with us so far.
What made you want to volunteer in the first place?
“I wanted a change in career. Due to health problems I had been working in a low-stress environment, mostly in cleaning, and catering over the last 15 years. As I got better I completed. As I got better I completed a course and the provider pointed me towards voluntary work.”
What do you like and dislike about volunteering with us?
“The experience has been very positive. I feel like I’m learning all the time everyday, gaining more valuable experience. Everybody is very friendly. Being unemployed is very isolating so it’s nice to be near people. I tried really hard to think of something bad to tell you to help other volunteers who might follow but I couldn’t think of anything. It’s been such a good opportunity to learn because it’s work I would really like to do and it’s hard to break into the area because when you’re looking for a job they always want experience. It’s hard to find that first job to give you a chance to develop your skills.”
How did you feel about the training/support you were given here?
“First of all I was given all the basic knowledge I needed and it was very helpful to get started. Everybody is very patient and supportive here. I’m always asking questions and everybody is willing to help me. Sometimes you just have to learn as you’re going along as you need to know so much to be on reception, but everybody has been very supportive. It might be easier for someone already with experience. I do feel the training and support is good. It’s a very nice atmosphere to work in.”
Do you use any Birmingham Settlement’s other services?
“I went to the Job Club recently and it was very interesting. I’ve had advice from other agencies before but I really learned a lot. I had one-to-one advice to help me with positive thinking and how to prepare for interviews, as well as using LinkedIn. At home I look at example questions, but it was really helpful and more realistic to be with someone and actually practice answering the important questions I could be asked.”
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with us?
“I’m very happy with it so far. I enjoy coming into work everybody. I appreciate the great opportunity I’ve been given.”