Shelter Scotland’s Support Service in Dumfries is calling on local residents to volunteer their way out of the recession.
The charity works to alleviate the distress caused by homelessness and bad housing. Shelter Scotland volunteers in Dumfries and Galloway provide vital practical support to families facing homelessness, such as help with decorating a new tenancy.
But the Shelter Scotland Support Service in Dumfries needs more volunteers and is urging local residents to give up just a few hours of their time a week to help a good cause while boosting their employment prospects.
When young parent, Julian Meredith (1), age 26, from Dumfries was finding it difficult to find a job he applied for volunteer work at Shelter Scotland.
Besides boosting your CV with new skills, many employers consider charity work to be as valuable as a paid job, according to research from careers guidance organisation, Inspiring Futures Foundation (2).
More than 50 per cent of employers agree that having a volunteer role on your CV helps an applicant stand out from the crowd.
For Julian, becoming a volunteer with Shelter Scotland opened up new opportunities.
Julian Meredith, Shelter Scotland volunteer, said:
“Work dried up and I was only getting a day’s work here and there. A friend recommended that I looked into becoming a volunteer at Shelter Scotland.”
“I filled in an application form and went to an interview where they asked a few questions, mainly about what time I could give and if I would be willing to undertake training.
“I was nervous at first,” he admits, “but everyone was friendly and I was made to feel part of the team. The emphasis is on a mutual exchange between you and the organisation. Shelter Scotland’s service users benefit from your time and skills and in return you benefit by building on your CV, gaining experience, references and having access to training. For me, the social benefit of being part of a team was the most important element.”
Julian added: “As well as picking up handy decorating skills which helped me when I painted my son’s nursery, I’ve also become more confident in talking to new people I’ve never met before, I have improved my computing skills and completed training on housing advice. I believe that improving my education and therefore my job prospects will also benefit my sons.
“Of course, that is not the role’s only reward, it’s a good feeling helping others and you gain satisfaction from supporting people to make their home nice for themselves and their families.”
Margaret Marr, Volunteer Coordinator, Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity, said:
“We are very grateful for all of the hard work put in year on year by all of our volunteers.
“Because of the help we receive from our volunteers, we are able to provide an enhanced service to those who need it most. Those who are homeless or are at risk of becoming so, rely on volunteers to make their move into their homes a much more positive experience.
“Volunteering can be a real stepping stone back to work for some, by providing them with sought after skills and training, which are in demand in the workplace. There are many other benefits of becoming a volunteer, such as increased confidence, meeting new people and pure job satisfaction.
“In addition, some of our staff began their careers at Shelter Scotland as volunteers and have found themselves in a paid position.”
Volunteers are provided with all the training necessary to undertake the role and ongoing support including travel expenses and help with childcare and meals is provided.
Unpaid volunteering should not affect your Jobseekers’ Allowance, as long as you inform the benefits agency you are volunteering, you are still taking steps to find a job, and are available to work for 40 hours a week.
Notes to Editors:
1. Please find a photograph of Julian Meredith attached for publication. Please note Julian is not available for interview.
2. The research for The Inspiring Futures Foundation was carried out online by One Poll in May 2009. The survey was taken by 2,000 HR professionals across the UK. More information can be found at: www.inspiringfutures.org.uk
3.There are currently 20 volunteers in the Dumfries and Galloway area, who contributed more than 1000 hours last year.
4. Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity. Shelter Scotland believes that everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.
5. Spokespeople are available for interview, telephone the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line number is available for broadcast interviews.
6. For more information about Shelter Scotland visit www.shelter.org.uk
7. Follow Shelter Scotland on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/shelterinscotland
Twitter – http://twitter.com/shelterscotland
Contact: Nicola Baxter
Phone: 0844 515 2442