We are half way through Volunteers week and we're hoping you are enjoying the stories as much as we are. Here is Michael's journey into volunteering, very inspiring.
Volunteer name: Michael
Where are they from: Manchester
What's their volunteer role and what do they do in that role:
Michael volunteers on Pathways Independent Living and Pre- employment courses. Rhonda, the Pathways Co-ordinator enthuses “Michael has been a huge asset as a Pathways volunteer. He is extremely creative and uses this talent to bring a new element into the sessions. Last year we ran an Independent Living Pathways for Proud and Loud Arts, and Michael used his drama and performance experience and skills to take the lead and create a number of roleplaying learning activities, which was hugely successful!
Recently, he organised educational activity trips, such as our trip to Manchester Central Library, which every participant in the group benefitted from and said how much they had enjoyed.
Michael is now an integral part of our Pathways courses now and we can’t think him enough for his support!”
Michael assisted the co-ordinators with sourcing venues and supporting people during training sessions. Michael’s considerate, attentive and honest approach and sense of humour make him a great volunteer.
Michael completed Social Model of Disability Training and commented that at Breakthrough “you’re spoken with, not spoken to and people (volunteers and participants) feel they have an interest in Breakthrough because they can have a positive input.”
How long have they been volunteering for: Almost a year
How did they get involved with volunteering:
Over a year ago Michael found out about Breakthrough at the job centre. He joined Breakthrough’s Pathways training programme and is so glad he did.
Michael had been on courses before and described his first impression of the Pre-Employment sessions as “a pleasant surprise - there’s always people who don’t know each other, who are quiet, shy and nervous. During every course people are brought out of themselves and afterwards you can barely shut them up!”
Michael had a mock interview, scoring full marks in his feedback.
Michael reported on his employability using an outcome star which reflects improvements from initial scores (in pink) and final scores (in blue).
Michael said, “I’m ready for the next step.” He added, “My confidence has risen massively”
“I’ve liked every aspect of the course. Everyone in the room has got more self confidence. I know more about every stage of the employment journey and also more information about what’s out there. I now feel that I have the confidence to pursue what I want to do!”
Michael says he was “impressed with how the course was presented and communicated in a fun but informative way”.
Why did they get involved in volunteering: Rhonda invited him to.
What do they enjoy most about volunteering:
Compared to a previous volunteering role, he described a “different dynamic”, explaining that he is on a “learning curve on how best to serve the project”. "I enjoy meeting friendly people, sharing perspectives, helping boost people’s confidence, especially shy people coming out of their shells."
What difference has volunteering made to their life:
Michael summarises his experience with Breakthrough “It’s given me more of a purpose”. "I look forward to sessions, gets me out and about, thinking in different ways, it has made me more self-aware of what I am (and aren’t) capable of. I look after myself better."
How does volunteering make them feel:
"I enjoy helping people and it helps me. I have met wonderful people and by speaking with others I am always learning. It’s positive finding out it’s not just me that’s like that, it’s like a club of people that comes together and empathises with each other.” It makes me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile, satisfying, I think "I’ve done that" maybe inspired others, "
What would they say to someone thinking about volunteering:
"Do it of course- it's an enlightening experience, you can learn a lot and meet people!"
What’s their favourite volunteering memory:
He explains “I’m gradually getting into my stride, being given space to volunteer more independently and bringing ideas. I instigated and set up a guided tour so participants could experience the wonderful modern Manchester library. I don’t want people to miss out on this undervalued hub which is a free source of information or just a place to sit and read the paper. People were reticent and not enthusiastic initially. They made their way into town in wintery weather. We got access to see so much; the tourguide covered a lot. It was heart-warming that a participant felt comfortable and confident enough to play the library piano. I was glad it went so well and we had a great turnout and afterwards people wanted to join the library. it prompted some to go again.”
"I also enjoyed staffing a pop up stall, it was interesting interacting with people – school kids, it was good. Also seeing people go into the mock interviews scared then the difference – they come out with smiles on their faces, and relief, I enjoy the experience, it’s nice to see… watch other people experiencing a confidence boost –I remember my first time in an interview situation, was scary and I was nervous."