Lorraine's Story

Lorraine, standing in a children playground, in the sunshineDo you have anything in common with Lorraine?
Lorraine is a full-time single mum with 4 children aged between 3 to 19 years old. She has been out of work for a long time. She loved being a mum but she also wanted to do something that she enjoys. Because she has no qualifications and has been at home for a long time looking after her kids, her confidence level was very low.

How the Volunteer Centre helped
Lorraine had been going to her local Children’s Centre regularly with her 3 year old son. There she found out about the borough-wide project that Volunteer Centre Tower Hamlets runs at Children’s Centres. She grabbed the opportunity to get on an Introduction to Volunteering training course while the Volunteer Centre was running it at her local Children’s Centre. Her son went to crèche during this 8 hour training course (2 hours a week). This introductory course helped her find out a lot; what benefits she can get out of volunteering, what kind of volunteer opportunities are available in Tower Hamlets; rights and responsibilities of volunteers; what support she can get while volunteering, how to answer interview questions, and what to expect from her induction.

After the training she booked an appointment with the Volunteer Centre to choose the voluntary opportunities she liked. Now it was her responsibility to phone them and go through their recruitment process. One of the opportunities she chose was a Court Support Volunteer with the Prisoners Families and Friends Service. When she called the organisation they invited her for an interview. Lorraine remembers the interview very vividly. She was so nervous! She thought she could not answer any questions but she went for it anyway. They were very friendly and made her feel welcome.

How Lorraine helped herself
It has been six months since Lorraine has started volunteering as a Court Support Volunteer. She has been volunteering for one day a week. She says she gained her confidence back:

‘I had training about confidentiality, team work, befriending, how to work at the Crown Court and the Magistrate Court. I have chosen the Magistrate Court because it gives me more experience as I can help more families and friends of prisoners. It is so nice and rewarding when I say 'I went to work'. Voluntary work helped me be in a work environment, gain confidence, work experience without any pressure on my family life. It gives you chance to taste what you like to do. You can stay as long as you learn something, develop yourself. It is flexible. You can arrange your timetable at the beginning around your family responsibilities and stick to it.

Volunteering is helping me to stay around my children and do something that I enjoy. My friends, people around me are so amazed with what I have been doing. I love it. It is also helping me make my mind up what to do next.
I successfully enrolled on a drug project which leads to an NVQ Health and Social Care. If I choose this field to study, I won’t be a student with no experience now - on the contrary I will be a student with lots of work experience and skills, thanks to voluntary work.’
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