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Volunteering paved way for full-time work

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: October 18, 2012

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A former volunteer is encouraging people to use the opportunity as a way of opening the door to paid employment.

At the end of this month people across the country will be asked to give up some of their time to help improve the lives of others or their community as part of Make A Difference Day.

The day is organised by the Community Service Volunteers (CSV) and last year saw more than 70,000 people taking part.

Twenty-year-old Isaac Penn who managed to find employment thanks to the skills he gained as a volunteer has shared his own example of how it transformed his life.

He started volunteering at the Barnardo's shop in Frome in March of last year when he was just 18 years old. Now he is working four days a week as a paid sales assistant at the charity's shop in Midsomer Norton.

Isaac said: "I wasn't having any luck looking for a job because everyone was asking for experience, so rather than sit around at home I thought that volunteering might help.

"My brother had previously volunteered for Barnardo's and really enjoyed it, and I knew that it was a great cause, so I started offering a couple of mornings a week at the Frome shop.

"I did all sorts of work, helping behind the till and on the shop floor as well as sorting and pricing stock. Then in August I saw a vacancy for an 'as and when' sales assistant to support other local Barnardo's shops and did this for a few months until I saw the permanent position in Midsomer Norton.

"Everyone here is fantastic and I've enjoyed getting to know many of the regular customers. Looking back, I was really shy when I first started volunteering but it's really boosted my self-confidence. It provided the vital retail experience which enabled me to get my first proper job."

Barnardo's shop manager Angie Cruickshank said: "We wouldn't be able to operate without the support of our volunteers, and Isaac is the perfect example of how it can change someone's life for the better. He is now an integral part of the team and is brilliant with the customers. We have a great team aged from 16 to 86 years old, but we're always looking for extra help if anyone can spare just a few hours a week."

Make A Difference Day is on Saturday October 27.

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