Volunteering can be a great path back into the workplace .
Many of us have to take time out for all sorts of reasons – such as to care for a loved one or because circumstances change. A way of life can change in a heartbeat.
And some simply get a bit bored with the endless spare time after a life of 9-5 and often find that ‘giving something back’ , the most quoted reason for volunteering, pays dividends in terms of their own quality of life, structure to the day, and self-esteem.
Society owes a great debt to those who give so generously of their own time and N-Vision, the Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Society for the Blind, has more reason than most to be grateful – with some 240 volunteers across all elements of the organisation.
Last year, N-Vision volunteers worked 14,400 hours. If they had been paid at last year’s minimum wage rate - £7.50an hour – it would equate to £108k!
Community volunteer coordinator Stephanie Beasley hails them the charity’s unsung heroes. She said: “We are privileged to work alongside such enthusiastic, dedicated people all who give their most valuable commodity, their time so freely.”
Volunteering is a two-way street – and sometimes the path can lead right back to the work place.
Gordon Foster held a variety of management roles, with the emphasis always on customer service, and applied those skills to his voluntary work (after about a couple of years out from employment) at N-Vision’s charity shop at Cleveleys.
As luck would have it, he was snapped up as the charity’s handyman when the paid post became available.
“I can turn my hand to pretty much anything,” he admits.
So, you’ll spot him at work in the gardens of the charity, at Bosworth Place, Squires Gate, in the Princess Alexandra Home and in and around the Low Vision Centre, Talking Newspaper studio and surrounds, doing a spot of maintenance, and responding to other calls for help and keeping things ticking over nicely.
He admits it’s not as stressful as his previous roles – and he’s enjoying every minute, even the “back-breaking bits”.
Gordon says: “My aim was to make a difference to people’s lives. Little things – like re-tuning someone’s TV – can mean the world of a difference. I really look forward to coming to work here.
“I think volunteering at the shop got me out of myself and made me realise I could still offer something back.”