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To cancel volunteering...

(34 Posts)
littlemissshittingit Sun 14-Jul-13 20:41:53

I've recently started volunteering with a local second hand shop. I had a five minute induction last week, had my first "shift" towards the end of the week.

The work isn't too strenuous, mainly involves folding and steaming clothing and then tagging it. I can't use my initiative because I've been told nothing about how the shop runs - I got given 3 black bags of clothing last week, told to take the tags off every single one and then put the same coloured tags straight back on but without pricing them.. Everything I do I have to ask "Shall I.. Do you need.. Would you like.." .. In the end they sent me home early as they said there was nothing else for me to do (was supposed to do 4 hours, I did 3)

The charity's website said they have a policy of paying all basic expenses for volunteers. I travel in 8 miles, paying £6 a day, asked the management about this. They said as I won't work "full time" I'm not entitled. They said I can't work more than I am (max 2 or 3 mornings a week) as they've too many employees and volunteers.

£6 a day, i.e. £20 a week for 3 shifts, is a lot of money for me as I have no income other than DLA and need to cough up over 1k by September for rent.. plus other expenses e.g. clothes, toiletries..

I spoke to my no-nonsense, child of the war gran last weekend who pointed out that if I'm going to bother travelling it should be for a paid job that I'd get something out of.

I'm a bit worried about work experience - however, I want to work as a holistic health type therapist or something (not sure how better to label it) and am kind of wondering what sort of w/e I am getting out of this - apart from maybe having a referee who can vouch for me being willing to work!!

(To put this all in context, I'm 22, haven't done any paid work since 16 despite endless applications/speculative letters, went direct from school to uni and then during uni ended up with MH issues/family issues so never been able to work..)

I have done a bit of voluntary work as it is although mainly with teens and children - worked with lower years at secondary school when I was in sixth year, have done two formal school placements, worked with Girlguiding for 6 years and have worked with teenagers online for a year (counselling them on sexual health and relationships).. I also have a "management" role in a uni society.

But surely if when I graduate uni next summer, and start searching for a job any prospective employer won't take on someone who hasn't been employed for years??

What would you do, would you quit?

AIBU to phone them up and say that I've changed my mind? Think I'll feel a right cow for letting them down sad and wont ever be able to show face in the shop again but maybe it's what I need to do?

Almostfifty Tue 16-Jul-13 19:41:33

What about CHAS? I'm sure they'd jump at your help.

Kernowgal Tue 16-Jul-13 19:39:00

OP as you're up Aberdeen way, if the horticulture side interests you, you could always try Cruickshank Botanic Garden either to volunteer there or to see if they know of any other charities locally that might suit what you want to do.

ZillionChocolate Mon 15-Jul-13 10:29:50

Wouldn't have thought you could claim ESA if you're a student but will depend on your course I suppose.

I think a background of work is relevant and useful, regardless of what was involved. I know someone who employs new graduates but won't take them on unless they've worked on weekends/in holidays.

Given the money it's costing you and the fact that they're over staffed, I'd see if you can find something more beneficial to you.

littlemissshittingit Mon 15-Jul-13 10:10:29

Lizs I never even got interviewed, I wish I had - I walked in to the shop, asked if they need any volunteers and one of the staff asked when I could come in for an induction. The induction was run by one of the staff but consisted of me being given a booklet to read alone, she asked me to tell her when I was finished and then told me to come back on xyz day to start volunteering.

In all that time I never met the manager.

Ironically, I ended up throwing up at 2am this morning so I've just come off the phone. The manager was very understanding, said not to worry at all.

I live roughly 40 miles from Aberdeen city in a teeny tiny village.. I spend normally every week in city and every weekend at home but until September am stuck in village.

I've looked up Thrive (never heard of it, they sound fab!) but nothing up here from what I can tell. However there might be something similar somewhere so will start looking! We do have an animal sanctuary some twenty miles up the road so I might contact them and see if they're up for volunteers, they do animal therapy sessions.. Track I'll PM you smile

Unfortunately due to my home situation there's some stuff I'm "barred" from doing - my sister's disabled and attends the only local centre for young adults with disabilities, so couldn't really work there. I think she'd be mortified if I was working there!

There is an opportunity of doing pet therapy sessions - e.g. taking a pet into the local hospital and allowing patients to have a chat with them. I'd enjoy that and am seriously considering it - we have a dog, she'd be unsuitable as she's a snappy lady but certainly one of the cats would be great.

Once I get back to uni I'm going to make a point of contacting their careers service, and also contacting a couple of counselling/therapy centres that I've been given the names of, to see if they might allow me to shadow or something. There's a soft play centre not too far away for disabled children so might give them a call.

Bus pass wise I'm looking into that. I've got anxiety/depression and OCD type behaviours and dyspraxia, get DLA at lowest levels due to those things. I don't know if I'm entitled to ESA, we tried that for another relative who takes random uncontrolled fits and they said she was perfectly capable of work!!

But with the dyspraxia I don't think I'm able to drive so getting a bus pass would really help. I just need to work out how to get it!

JazzDalek Mon 15-Jul-13 08:54:30

Why don't you try your local CAB. They give good training and always need volunteers.

Seconding this - the training is great, and the work experience you gain has lots of transferable skills. I have been doing it for a couple of months now and in a typical day I:

Conduct interviews
Write case notes
Book appointments
Take telephone enquiries

You can begin training as a gateway assessor, which takes six weeks, and after that if you're so inclined you can undertake full advisor training, which takes quite a bit longer, but is very well-regarded by employers.

LIZS Mon 15-Jul-13 07:54:23

and even if you do have to pay travel , could you not use the rest of the day to go to library , job hunt etc so you avoid a double expense. Would you qualify for a bus pass if you claimed ESA ?

WhoNickedMyName Mon 15-Jul-13 07:44:10

You've only done an induction and one shift.

I think you should stick with it whilst looking for something else.

LIZS Mon 15-Jul-13 07:38:42

I'm going to go against the grain here and say you should stick at it , even if just for a few months. You will learn customer service skills, time management, interpersonal skills etc. At the beginning it is always crap , you don't have the relevant experience of how they work or who best to ask but that won't come unless you stay. Do however pursue the expense issue as what they are saying doesn't ring true , even if they don't need the reimbursement you do - next time clarify this at interview. Keep looking for paid work too , there is nothing to say you cannot do both, even covering reception at a health club or a sports centre. Are you registered with temp agencies ?

thetrackisback Mon 15-Jul-13 07:01:39

Where are you OP? I work for a large organisation with care homes for people with learning disabilities, mental health issues, alcohol rehabilitation. We have a volunteering scheme and this could seriously lead to an employment opprtunity. The organisation has mindful employer status so having mental health issues will not stand in your way. Private message e if you are interested!

pingulingo Mon 15-Jul-13 06:59:57

Speak to your university careers office too - the couple I've been to also arrange volunteering and placements too. Does your university have a jobs website/listings? They tend to have local volunteering opportunities listed as well as suitable job vacancies for whilst you are still studying.

I think the fact that you are planning ahead and also putting the extra effort in to volunteer too will really help boost your cv and future job hunting. Good luck.

Also the do-it org website is great for searching for local volunteering - lots of different opportunities and I'm sure you could find something more aligned to your future career plans here too.

kreecherlivesupstairs Mon 15-Jul-13 06:50:38

It sounds as if everyone is pissing on your plans. BUT, I'd also rethink your teaching assistant plans.
My sister is one, there was a vacancy at her inner London bog standard junior school for a .75 TA.
3000 people applied for it give or take.
Good luck with the rest of your course.
And to answer your OP, no YWNBU to cancel your volunteering.

AnnaFiveTowns Sun 14-Jul-13 23:48:08

Why don't you try your local CAB. They give good training and always need volunteers.

ilovesooty Sun 14-Jul-13 22:15:58

If you want to work using talking therapy distance qualifications don't provide appropriate training for professional practice. I'm also a little concerned that you mention the possibility of volunteering with Child line and imply that you might not disclose your personal involvement with therapy to them, especially as your mental health situation
entitles you to claim DLA.

SueDoku Sun 14-Jul-13 21:50:15

OP, I really am not trying to rain on your parade in any way, but I'd forget about library work. I've just retired from the profession, and we were getting applicants for 7-hour posts who had Masters in Librarianship... Over 3,000 libraries have closed in the last 3 years - that's a lot of unemployed library staff sad

Your idea of contacting friends/family who work in the field that you'd like to go into will probably be better for your future prospects. Good luck for your future career..! smile

Eyesunderarock Sun 14-Jul-13 21:45:52

You need to tie in your volunteering to something that will link to your goal of being a 'holistic health type therapist or something'
Have you looked at this site? You can see what's available in your area that matches your interests more closely.

Kernowgal Sun 14-Jul-13 21:41:16

What they all said about the full-time only for expenses thing - how ridiculous. Also that info should have been made clear to you before you even came to work on the first day.

Have you thought about volunteering with a horticultural therapy charity such as Thrive? This could have added benefits if you are interested in aromatherapy as you could also learn about the plants on which aromatherapy is based.

There are many many horticultural therapy charities across the UK; there are also gardens that work with volunteers with special needs or physical disabilities. Even if you didn't fancy doing the physical work I'm sure they would welcome help with admin and suchlike.

babyhmummy01 Sun 14-Jul-13 21:35:14

if you want to 'pad out' your CV and are not averse to kids then look on the girlguidinguk website or scouting one as they are always looking for volunteers (Am a brownie leader who would LOVE more help). It looks fantastic to employers and generally is very local. Expenses etc aren't generally paid but you choose how much you want to be involved from just turning up to be a pair of hands to becoming a full blown leader if you want it. PM me for more details if you want

Inthebeginning Sun 14-Jul-13 21:30:00

Also look at the rowan organisation for jobs/ befriending etc. I would cancel the volunteering if I were you. There are far more deserving places, and ones that want people far more too.

Inthebeginning Sun 14-Jul-13 21:26:22

Could you volunteer at a hospice? At our local one they do aromatherapy etc so you might be able to get into things that way? Or ask your local volunteer bureau what there is available? Or maybe schools/sure start in their sensory rooms?

PatsyAndEddy Sun 14-Jul-13 21:19:42

clouds check with the organisation you work for, you might be able to claim and donate back your expenses plus gift aid.

The volunteers I manage can do this. It also helps with budgets as 10 volunteers who don't claim could be replaced by 10 that do which makes planning tricky!

taleteller Sun 14-Jul-13 21:13:52

If their website says they pay basic expenses for volunteers you should contact their Head office and ask them why they hadn't made it clear that this only applied to full time volunteers. Few volunteers would be full time so this sounds a bit hmmmm to me.

It doesn't sound like their attitude towards you as a volunteer was very welcoming at all and for this reason alone I would not go back. I would of course contact them to say you did not wish to continue, and say if they needed you to come in for your "shifts" you would do so for up to 4 weeks (or whatever you can manage) which would give them time to sort out a replacement. They may well say they don't need you by the sound of it but at least you will have offered.

Dont make excuses or feel bad about it, - why not say that there was a misunderstanding and you had expected travel costs to be paid and cannot afford to continue in the longer term if they are not. Thinking about it, I would follow this up in writing, to confirm whatever you agreed, and copy the Head Office with your letter (referring to the travel cost info on the website) so they learn how to treat volunteers' expectations better in future.

WhereYouLeftIt Sun 14-Jul-13 21:13:30

"The charity's website said they have a policy of paying all basic expenses for volunteers. I travel in 8 miles, paying £6 a day, asked the management about this. They said as I won't work "full time" I'm not entitled. They said I can't work more than I am (max 2 or 3 mornings a week) as they've too many employees and volunteers."

That makes me a bit hmm. I would probably contact the webmaster and point out that the information on that page is misleading and suggest it be updated. Then sit back and see if the management at your location are claiming your expenses and not passing them on to you. (Yes, I am that cynical.)

PatsyAndEddy Sun 14-Jul-13 21:10:58

Be a website or you can call or pop on, they'll run a database of all local oppertinities and will help you find something

littlemissshittingit Sun 14-Jul-13 21:10:55

My degree is slightly linked - it's an English and Linguistics degree.

It's also, perhaps, a mistake. It's a good mistake because I suppose it's good to have a degree - but, I started uni with the intention of being a teacher and when that fell through, I ended up doing the degree I am now.

I say it's a mistake because over the last year I've come to realise it's not closely related to the career I want to go for. I have thought about doing something inbetween the two (e.g. speech therapy) but the nearest uni that offers speech therapy is 200 miles away from home, don't feel confident enough to move that far.

But then I've met friends through uni and gained life skills so it's not all a mistake..

When I graduate I'm planning on going into some sort of full time work (maybe library work, or classroom assistance or something, unless I can get work at a counselling centre or something like that) and doing distance learning courses in order to get the necessary qualifications.

To be honest most of my plans are probably not feasible and rely on a job being available when I graduate, which probably won't be the case.

I do have some contacts within the field I want to go into, have a family friend who did similar work so I feel I might be better off asking those people about work experience/shadowing etc.

PatsyAndEddy Sun 14-Jul-13 21:09:32

What about befriending in some capacity.

Google your county plus volunteer centre, there will

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