I had been out of work for 2 years. I had been a youth worker but had to leave due to health reasons. Two years is a long time and I was really bored sitting at home. I decided I needed to do something.
One day I walked in of the street to the Oxfam Charity shop on the Ormeau Road and asked if they needed any volunteers. They did! I started off doing a few hours a week and built up my hours over time.
I had volunteered for 2 years when a vacancy for a Deputy Manager in Oxfam’s Castle Street Shop became available. I applied using all the experience I had gained from my volunteering, my knowledge of Oxfam and the charity business. I got the job and worked there for 3 years. Part of my work involved looking after the books. This side of the business was doing well and Oxfam decided to open a dedicated Oxfam book shop and were looking for a Manager. Again I applied and again I was successful!
We set the book shop up from scratch – spending long, cold hours in a warehouse sorting and pricing mountains of books and then stocking the shop. That was two and a half years ago. It took a while to get established but now the bookshop is doing really well. We have our regular customers and quite a few tourists. We also have a core group of 15 – 20 very dedicated volunteers who provide invaluable help.
Volunteering helped me to get back into work. It is something positive to do and provides useful experience. The whole social aspect is so important and employers like to see volunteering on CVs. Above all there is the satisfaction of doing something useful and helping others – would I recommend volunteering? – TOTALLY!