Volunteering key to get back into work

Volunteering is making the East Marsh a better place to live. It is also a great way to gain new skills and improve your chances of getting a job. In the latest feature about unemployment in the ward, reporter Simon Faulkner visits Volunteers’ Day at Grimsby Neighbourhood Centre.

MORE than a dozen local organisations gathered at Grimsby Neighbourhood Centre to showcase the rich variety of volunteering that takes place within the East Marsh.

While the emphasis was very much on celebrating the work of volunteers in their community, those present were also quick to acknowledge the vital role that volunteering can play in helping people get back into work.

And with the sixth highest proportion of out-of-work benefits claimants in the country, it is perhaps just as well that the East Marsh has a thriving voluntary sector.

But despite a recent national report labelling the area as a “benefits ghetto”, Chris Taylor, from the community centre Your Place, says there is a sense of growing optimism that the East Marsh is turning the corner.

“Your Place has been here for ten years and we are seeing a real turnaround in people being more positive and believing that things can only get better. There are so many people doing amazing things to make the East Marsh a better place to live.”

Chris believes that volunteering can be a lifeline to those out of work.

“If you are unemployed, often there’s very little structure in your day. Volunteering brings that structure back.”

Ellen O’Connell, volunteer co-ordinator at Foresight, agrees.

“For people who are returning to work or have been out of work for a long time, it’s a good way of gaining valuable experience.”

And Alistair Woodhouse, a director of Get Hooked on Positive Activities, says volunteering gives the unemployed their confidence back.

“They feel they are some use to the community, and they are, and it will hopefully lead to employment.”

Annemarie Kenchington, 32, of Rutland Street, believes volunteering at the Good Buys Charity Shop, in Wellington Street, helped her get a part time cleaning job at B&Q.”

She found out about the volunteering opportunity there after being referred to the Grimsby Neighbourhood Centre by Contract Lincs while looking for work. She still volunteers two days a week at the shop.

“I did find it tough to get a job as there are not many jobs around. Volunteering is something good to have on your CV and I would definitely recommend it.”