27-year-old Jack Rogers has been volunteering at his local Sue Ryder shop in the Keighley Airedale Centre in West Yorkshire for the past three years.
My first contact with the shop was through my local jobcentre. I was unemployed with not a great of deal of work experience and my adviser told me about an eight-week work placement at my local Sue Ryder charity shop.
I was asked to pop into the shop and have an informal chat with the manager.
At the time, I was lacking in confidence and very apprehensive about meeting new people, but Mary was lovely and made me feel welcome. She told me about our local Manorlands Hospice and the care that they provide. She also let me know what my volunteering role would involve and what my duties would be.
My first day
I was nervous on my first day, but also quite excited about gaining new skills and meeting new people. Fortunately, my first day went really well.
Mary showed me how to sort clothing, taught me about Gift Aid and how to tag donations, and also introduced me to the rest of the team.
I really enjoyed my eight-week placement – so much so that I decided I would like to become a permanent volunteer.
A stepping stone into paid work
I now volunteer an average of 30 hours a week. Over time, I've learned to do pretty much everything in the shop. I was very apprehensive about using the till at first but, looking back, it's given me the experience of talking to people, which has helped me with my confidence so much.
Through my voluntary work at Sue Ryder, I am no longer unemployed: I work for a school letting agency, where I have to communicate with clients and am also responsible for the keys to the school.
I still choose to volunteer, however, because I’m still gaining new skills. I'm currently doing an NVQ in Retail.
I also love being part of the team; we have really good team spirit. We like to get involved in local events for Manorlands. For instance, last year we walked the Starlight Hike and also the Big 10K on Mother’s Day.
If anyone is thinking of volunteering and unsure about doing it, then I would say go for it! It's the best decision I've ever made; it's really changed my life.
Interested in volunteering with us?
Jack has been volunteering at our Keighley, Airedale Shopping Centre charity shop since 2014. He credits the retail and customer-facing experience he has gained with helping him move into paid work.