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Michele finds support

Throughout my marriage I suffered from domestic abuse, which I managed to escape with the help of the charity Survive and the Women’s Refuge service. It left me with severe depression and a complete lack of confidence; I have been unable to work for the past two years.

At the beginning of 2017 I visited the Volunteer Centre and came away with a list of opportunities that I thought I might be interested in. But afterwards I had panic attacks at the idea of trying.

Picture of Michelle.

The Centre development co-ordinator followed up a few weeks later and I explained my predicament. She told me about a volunteering placement scheme they were running in conjunction with Essilor Ltd. This would allow me to volunteer at the company for 35 hours over a period of time to suit myself. Essilor staff had been trained to act as mentors to support volunteers like myself throughout their placement.

With the encouragement of everyone involved I decided to try the scheme and went along for a two-hour trial. I was very, very nervous and panicking massively and almost didn’t turn up but part of me realised that I needed to do this for myself. I shadowed June in the customer care department, saw what she did, what her team did and found out how the company worked. Halfway through the morning I had a funny five minutes but June reassured me, checked that I was OK to carry on and with her support I stayed for the full two hours.

As each week went by my confidence grew and my ability to work increased. Meeting and working with new people also helped my confidence enormously. Though this placement made me realise I wasn’t ready to start looking for a full-time job, by the end of my 35 hours I felt ready to look for part-time employment.

I cannot thank the staff at Essilor enough for the help, encouragement and support they have given me. I feel like a different person now to the one I was just six months ago. Since finishing I have applied for a couple of part-time jobs and I am hopeful that something will turn up soon.

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Thornbury Volunteer Centre is a registered charity, number 1180775. The Town Hall, 35 High Street, Thornbury, BS35 2AR. Tel: 01454 413392. Hours: Mon-Fri 10:30-12.00. This site © Thornbury Volunteer Centre. Site design by Michael Quinion. Page last updated 23 Aug. 2017.