Stuart has been volunteering with The Wallich for just over a year. For Volunteers Week, he blogs about his experience as volunteer and how it helped him return to employment:
“I first received support when I was a rough sleeper in Bridgend. I attended the drop-in service at The Wallich to see what help and support was available. After attending the drop-in for a short time I received the help I needed to get housed and was offered to become a volunteer for RSVP (the Residents and Service Users’ Volunteer Programme). I began helping out at the drop-in service in Bridgend which was a great experience as it kept me in a routine and helped me develop my listening and empathy skills.
After a couple of months, I then started volunteering at Ikon Creative, The Wallich’s graphic design and print enterprise in Cardiff. I was able to develop my keen interest in graphic design, receiving lots of guidance and help which saw me getting involved in designing the client ‘Response’ magazine, which I found very fulfilling. I took part in a steering group to plan the redesign of The Wallich website and gave my views on the charity’s branding.
After discovering that I had a desire to become a support worker, from my time helping out at the drop-in, I was referred to become an external volunteer as this allowed me to offer peer support to other homeless people who were being supported by The Wallich.
I sat down and worked out a timetable that I could work to. I started doing a few hours at the Vesta Project in Bridgend on Mondays, which helped me gain more experience of substance and alcohol misuse. On Tuesdays I would help at PREP, the prison leavers’ project in Bridgend, which helped me learn how to engage with prison leavers and learn about the various problems faced by them. On Wednesdays and Thursdays I volunteered at the Brynmenyn Hostel. I learned how to engage with families who were experiencing housing difficulties and found out about the various stages of help that they receive.
I found volunteering to be very rewarding as you not only gain valuable skills but it keeps you in a positive routine and helps you to gain confidence. After being an external volunteer for about six months, I applied for a full time job within The Wallich and I am proud to say that I am now the receptionist at Central Services in Cardiff.
I would recommend volunteering to anyone as it gave me the confidence and experience I needed to achieve getting back into full-time work.”
If you would like to find out more about supporting The Wallich, please have a look at our information on volunteering.