On the first day of the fourth Spirit of Manchester Story week, there were three stories:
It’s been a wonderful journey so far
Tom was facing challenging circumstances that seemed insurmountable. A former offender, he had found himself in a cycle of substance misuse, homelessness and depression.
“The first time I came across Step Together was when I was living in an alcohol rehab project in Manchester and was really struggling to cope. Karen came in to do a presentation and I was really struck with what she had to say about volunteering.” Tom explained.
“Looking back, I can see I was trying to run before I could walk and Karen realised this long before I did. She got to know me and we discussed different options. I started volunteering at a dog’s home and it was just what I needed back then.”
Step Together provided Tom with tailored one-to-one support to help him into a community volunteering placement that matched his needs and interests, and helped him to develop the personal and practical skills needed to build a more positive future.
Tom really valued the support and said, “Since those first steps, I haven’t looked back. I completed several courses and moved on to volunteering in the social care sector. I am now in employment and at the interview they said that the experience I’d gained volunteering would be very useful.”
“It’s been a wonderful journey so far and one that I didn’t think would be possible. I didn’t even know where to start, but Karen has been there, every step of the way.”
Step Together is helping to reduce the number of people who re-offend on leaving prison. In the UK, almost half of adults are reconvicted within one year of release and for those serving sentences of less than 12 months, this figure increases to almost 60%. Less than 5% of ex-offenders who receive one-to-one support from Step Together reoffend.
Volunteering to boost confidence
Today’s Creative Support volunteer event was a mixture of jumble sale, arts and craft session, cupcake making and befriending workshop all rolled into one. It was held to bring together 20 volunteers from across the services in Manchester to meet each other, get involved in fun activities and learn more about what’s happening at the charity.
The event was also an opportunity for those wanting to volunteer to learn about what different support the charity provides and meet current volunteers to hear first-hand how service users are supported. One person at the event said she had felt quite isolated as she used to volunteer but had stopped recently. She had travelled from Salford to meet new people and hoped being involved with Creative Support would boost her confidence and help her feel less lonely.
The turnout for the day was really good, with lots of interest from new and returning Manchester students who were looking for interesting and rewarding volunteering roles.
Creative Support is a charitable organisation which promotes the independence, inclusion and wellbeing of people with care and support needs.
Six months have really changed his life
Refugees & Mentors
In just six months, Yusaf has got his English up to speed, is booked in for college courses, knows the type of jobs that are available, has a really good CV, and has interview and work experience. It’s really changed his life and he feels part of a community now.
Refugees & Mentors help asylum seekers and refugees to find work once they’ve been granted refugee status. Lee started volunteering eight months ago and was paired up with Yusaf, an Iraqi refugee in his mid-twenties. They are both engineers and once they updated his CV, they discussed the type of work he would like to do and then contacted lots of prospective employers and helped him arrange interviews and carried out mock interviews. He has had some week long work placements at a couple of engineering companies just to get him some experience.
Lee said, “We’ve managed to get him a job in a warehouse but it’s not his core skills,he’s a really good engineer so we are still trying to get him an engineering job. Today we had a drop-in session just to see how his job is going and to make sure he is set for starting his college course next week.
There are lots of benefits to the work we do. Economically, we helping to get people off benefits and getting them into employment as quickly as we can. It also helps to integrate refugees into the community because they are playing an active part. Confidence is a big thing and just an understanding of the British culture and language. Feeling more at home here.”
Storify - https://storify.com/PolicyVoiceMacc/2017-spirit-of-manchester-story-day-one