Shaw Trust Scotland, the national employment, disability, learning and skills charity, is calling for more volunteers to help extend its charitable mission across the country. The charity believes volunteering can act as a vital bridge between unemployment and finding a permanent job.
The call comes during Volunteers' Week, an annual celebration running from the 1st-12th June, organised by NCVO in partnership with Volunteer Development Scotland.
There are many benefits of volunteering. One of Shaw Trust Scotland's volunteers, Rachael Donovan (24) from New Zealand, recently moved to Edinburgh. She found immersing herself in volunteering helped her develop sign language skills, make friends and get a job in a new city.
Rachael started volunteering with Shaw Trust Scotland, after meeting Volunteering Development Specialist, Jason Moyes, at a charity conference.
Since joining, Rachael, who is qualified in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), has learned to communicate in British Sign Language (BSL), using her skills to work with deaf jobseekers.
Before volunteering with the charity, Rachael was struggling to find employment but has now secured a permanent job as a support worker.
Shaw Trust Scotland has more than 30 years' experience of helping people achieve their work ambitions and gain greater independence.
The charity helps a range of individuals including those with a disability or mental health condition, young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs), ex-offenders, people tackling addiction and those recovering from a long-term illness.
Rachael visits the Edinburgh centre once a week to support deaf clients. She spends most of her time with Kellie McCrossan Aitken, helping with her job search.
Rachael said: "There are lots of benefits from volunteering with Shaw Trust. I have learnt a new skill, British Sign Language, which has helped me to communicate better with deaf clients.
Thanks to a strong reference from the charity, I've also secured a job as a support worker for people with mental health conditions. Volunteering has broadened my social circle, getting to know the clients and staff has been great. My time at Shaw Trust Scotland has definitely boosted my own self-confidence."
Commenting on her clients, Rachael said: "While volunteering at the Edinburgh office, I have seen first-hand the transformation in clients' confidence levels.
"I support a client called Kellie. We meet every Thursday to discuss her goals and ambitions. Our meetings are an informal channel to discuss any confidence issues. I have faced unemployment in the past, so I can relate to Kellie and other clients' frustrations. I'm happy to say, through visiting Shaw Trust, Kellie has achieved a place on a volunteering programme which she is really enjoying."
Kellie commented: "My confidence has improved in the job search process. I feel better about navigating through applications and asking what things mean, with Rachael supporting me each step of the way. She interpreted for me at a jobs fair and a volunteer interview. Shaw Trust Scotland is lucky to have such committed volunteers like Rachael."
Rachael's passion for volunteering received a boost when she was studying in Vietnam for her Bachelor's degree in International Tourism Management. Whilst there, she witnessed huge levels of poverty. She decided business wasn't the right career path for her and became more involved with volunteering.
Jason Moyes, Volunteering Development Specialist at Shaw Trust Scotland, said: "We couldn't be more grateful for Rachael's contribution at Shaw Trust Scotland. She has become a valued member of our team and has been integral in helping Kellie build her confidence.
"We're always on the lookout for new volunteers at Shaw Trust Scotland in our various offices throughout the country. Volunteers are key to helping us achieve our goal of supporting more people on their journey towards sustained employment."
If you would like to share your skills and become a Shaw Trust volunteer, get in touch with Jason Moyes Jason.Moyes@shaw-trust.org.uk (opens in a new window)