Tom has volunteered at the Cardinal Hume Centre since late 2013, shortly after moving to London for his Master’s degree at LSE. He tells us about his experiences assisting the employment team at our popular sessions for jobseekers:
“Having done precious little volunteering before, I was keen to get some first-hand experience and learn something new about the great work voluntary groups do to help those in need.
I now spend a couple of hours most weeks at the Centre’s Jobs Club. Along with the paid staff and other volunteers, I help anyone who walks in with anything they need to find work, from helping write their CVs to searching for jobs or just generally chatting to them about their skills and what work they’re looking for.
One of the first things I realised after getting involved was that no single client is the same. Everyone who comes through the Centre’s doors is unique and has different needs. From refugees and formerly homeless residents of the Centre’s hostel who have never held up a job and might have language difficulties; to people who have had careers behind them, sometimes in highly professional sectors, but who often need basic help on how to use PCs. None of them conform to the modern-day stereotype of the lazy job-seeker. Many have serious barriers in the way of getting work, such as caring responsibilities for their young children which severely limit the jobs they can do.
On the other hand, the most heartening thing about working at the Centre is that everyone I’ve come across has an amazing skill or achievement they don’t give themselves nearly enough credit for. For every client I’ve spoken to, I’ve always come across something they’ve done which really impresses me, but which they’ve neglected to put in their CVs or job applications. We are all our own worst judges, and people who have been out of work often just don’t realise how talented and inspiring they really are!
For me, the Cardinal Hume Centre’s job search and advice club represents everything the Job Centre should be. After having one-to-one conversations with every client, the Job Club staff work to help address people’s various, broader needs and give them the self-confidence to get into work. They’re given help with IT and languages from other parts of the Centre if they need it, and the Centre even keeps in close touch with those who do find work to address any worries they might have. Everyone, regardless of the severity of their needs, is given a helping hand.
A lot of the time as a volunteer, you’re helping people do very things which come as second-nature to you, such as searching through jobs online. But for the people you’re helping, this means the world to them. This is what makes volunteering at the Centre so rewarding and for anyone with a bit of spare time, I’d definitely recommend it!”