Lesley, 54, moved to South Wales a few years ago to be closer to family. She had spent 20 years out of work because of a repetitive strain injury. It was through her involvement with Scope that she gained the confidence and skills to secure a full time job. Here Lesley shares her story as part of Scope’s 100 days, 100 stories campaign.
The last time I worked was in 1993 for a social services department, caring for elderly people. I gave up work as I had repetitive strain injury (RSI) in my wrist.
I had always done some volunteering with local charities and when I moved to South Wales in 2012, I wanted to continue to do voluntary work.
I knew I wanted to work with vulnerable adults, probably in a caring or support worker role. It was through the return to work scheme I was on that I learnt about Scope. I asked if I could find out more information and I met with a Scope worker, Carol.
Volunteering with Scope
Carol and I agreed that I would go to her regular cinema activity and see how we got on. I really liked the group and they seemed to like me, so I started as a regular volunteer.
We would go for lunch, to the cinema and bowling and I would be supporting disabled adults to take part in the activities.
I got particularly friendly with one woman who had epilepsy and we would meet and go for lunch. Once someone asked her who I was, and I introduced myself as her friend. It was really nice the way it happened, as she was a private person.
Learning new skills
Volunteering has really helped me to learn new skills. I did lots of courses including ‘Working with Vulnerable Adults,’ ‘Epilepsy and Autism Awareness’ and ‘Food Hygeine’.
I got a certificate for each course which gave me the proof to take to employers that I had completed the course.
I recently went on a person-centred planning training day and while I was there, I said I was a volunteer for Scope and that I really wanted a job in care work. When we stopped for a break a woman approached me and said she worked for a company who provided care support.
By the end of the day I had been invited to an interview with them and I am delighted to say they offered me a job. I have to do four days training with them before I start working, and once my checks and references are in place I will be an employee.
I’d definitely recommend people to volunteer for Scope. Especially if, like me, you have a disability and are looking to move into employment. Volunteering definitely helped me to get the job. I had the training, experience and skills the employer was looking for.