Single Parent Action Network
Empowering – Connecting – Campaigning

"Volunteering helped me secure a job"

  • Tuesday, 11 February 2014 00:00

Sally started coming to SPAN 13 years ago as a service user and today she is one of our amazing Parent Support Workers. Sally was initially referred to SPAN by the Job Centre. She had three young children at the time and was suffering from depression. She wanted to work, but found it impossible to afford childcare. Instead she started to volunteer with SPAN as she was able to leave her children in the crèche for free.

“My youngest at the time was coming up to one and the Job Centre put me in touch with SPAN and Barton Hill Settlement as they did not find it feasible for me to look for work. The first thing I did at SPAN was a Boxercise class. I also started a Business and Administration course at Barton Hill Settlement and needed a placement. I saw an advert on a notice board at SPAN saying that they had volunteering opportunities. I applied and was offered to work on a national information project”.

While volunteering for SPAN, Sally was able to access a lot of different training opportunities. She trained to be a facilitator for Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) parenting programme, Speak Easy (about sex education) and the Freedom Programme (Domestic Abuse). Sally also completed certificates in teaching adult learners and community volunteering. By this time, Sally had four young children and it was still difficult for her to work due to the very high costs of childcare. As a result, she ended up running almost 40 SFSC programmes as a volunteer and also a number of Freedom Programme and Speak Easy sessions.

“Originally my plan was to pursue a career in Adminstration, but all the training at SPAN took me in a different direction. I really enjoyed working with parents and particularly facilitating the parenting programmes. When the opportunity came up to do some paid admin and facilitator support work with the SFSC team at SPAN I applied and got the job. This was 5 years ago. I’m still at SPAN, but now in a different role”.

Since two years back, Sally is employed as a Parent Support Worker at SPAN. She also works a few hours per week with the Online support website One Space on the forums answering questions and offering support.  She also continues to do volunteering work as a school Governor at her children’s primary school and she is actively involved with her local church.

“The support I have received from SPAN has been invaluable. I’ve had a lot of support and direction. There were many people with different skills and who have helped in different ways. It was not only the career development that was important. It was also to know that there were other people in similar situations as myself, which helped me to get over some of my personal issues. This made me feel more confident and empowered. It gave me the confidence that I needed to get in to the areas of work that I was interested in. When I said ‘I can’t do that’ there was always people at SPAN who said ‘yes you can!’. It was that kind of empowerment that I needed. I really don’t know where I would have been today, if I had not come to SPAN and started to do the volunteering. I think volunteering is one of the best routes in to work for people in my situation. I know it for myself and also through many people I have supported. It is a great way of gaining skills and confidence”.