Jenny Blackwell, from Redhill, has been supported by staff from Active Prospects’ Community Prospects team for over four years following a particularly difficult period in her life which led to her becoming house-bound and no longer being able to cope with her day-to-day life.
Support Workers from Active Prospects worked with Jenny to gradually build up her trust, confidence and ability to live a more normal life, encouraging her to go out and take part in some voluntary work.
As well as volunteering a few hours a week at a number of different charity shops, Jenny also became involved supporting and fundraising for Alcoholics Anonymous and AlAnon, the organisation which supports people who are worried about someone they know with a drinking problem.
When Active Prospects opened its first ever charity shop in Horley, in June 2017, with the key aim of providing supported volunteering opportunities to the people it supports, Jenny was at the front of the queue for a voluntary role.
Following a successful initial interview, Jenny started volunteering at the shop for two hours a week on a Tuesday. She said: “I really enjoyed volunteering in the shop. It helped to build my confidence, which was the main reason I wanted to do it, as a stepping stone to feeling more capable in the workplace.”
After just two months of supported volunteering in the shop, Jenny had the opportunity to apply for a paid role, which she was successfully appointed to following another interview and taster day. After an exceptional performance, Jenny’s new role was confirmed straight away; the first of Active Prospects’ Supported Volunteers to successfully make the transition from voluntary to paid work.
Jenny has taken to her new paid role really well and has already been left in complete charge of the shop for a day. She is delighted at her success, saying: “I’m really proud of myself for making the transition to paid employment so quickly. It also helps my friends and other people with mental health issues that Active Prospects supports to know that they can come out of it and start to rebuild their lives. I am hoping to continue in this role for the foreseeable future alongside a new voluntary counselling and support role that I have been offered working with people who are suffering domestic violence.”