Volunteering hugely positive for unemployed Hackney residents
Volunteering is hugely positive for Hackney residents who are unemployed, and have mental health issues, we have found, through our Step Up project.
Step Up supports people dealing with mental health issues to access and sustain volunteer and employment opportunities, and works closely with primary and secondary mental health services across Hackney. Since June 2015, we have supported over 110 people to start volunteering and 21 people to secure paid employment, and the overwhelming majority of participants are reporting improved mental health and wellbeing through the programme. They are also reporting improved skills, increased confidence, improved physical health and having met new people.
Last August, a patient (we will call him N), was referred to Step Up by Enhanced Primary Care. N had been dealing with low mood and post-traumatic stress disorder, and had been made redundant from his role after struggles with his health. After meeting the team, N declared an interest in resuming his career and finding some voluntary work in a similar field. Step Up contacted various schools in the borough and after consultation with N, decided that DP School who had a volunteer Teaching Assistant role available, would be a good fit. N received support with his CV and application form, received 1:1 support in interview preparation and was offered the post in October 2016. Since then N has flourished:
“You (have helped me to rebuild) confidence in myself once again after a long time of sadness and confusion. Now I feel more reliable and full of faith that during 2017 (I will be able to) achieve all my dreams with your support. I would like to thank you so much”.
The school Head Teacher also told us “N has settled in wonderfully and is now an integral part of our Year 6 team!”
In January 2017 N reported “strongly agree” to all of the following indicators:
- Volunteering has improved my confidence in my abilities and self-esteem
- Volunteering has improved my skills and knowledge
- Volunteering has improved my employability
- Volunteering has improved my physical health
- Volunteering has helped me to have a more positive outlook
- Volunteering has enabled me to meet new people
- Volunteering has helped me to feel more engaged with my local community
- Volunteering has helped me identify my personal goals
- Volunteering has helped me work towards my personal goals
N is now being supported by the Step Up employment advisor, to use his volunteering to progress further and go onto secure paid employment. He is attending our weekly job club and has now received help with sourcing job vacancies and completing application forms.
Step Up is funded by both Big Lottery and City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group, through the Psychological Therapies Alliance. Volunteer mentors are trained and supported to provide ongoing bespoke support, to participants, meeting them weekly to co-produce action plans and provide motivation and encouragement to help people progress towards their goals. There are also group activities and taster volunteer opportunities such as dance workshops, and gardening, to help people stay engaged.