Elevate Volunteer Success Stories
Tom’s StoryVolunteer Renovation Worker
Tom started volunteering with Elevate 18 months ago and is now an integral member of the team. Having moved to Leeds from Lancashire to pursue a new job opportunity around 11 years ago, Tom has had to overcome real adversity over recent years.
Tom was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2009, something which he underwent treatment for. Due to the time and the toll that the treatment took, Tom was unable to attend work. His cancer treatment lasted for around 6 months before the cancer gradually remised. Since his treatment, Tom has regularly attended appointments and was recently told that he is cancer free.
Tom started to look for work following the completion of his cancer treatment. However, it was a difficult time in terms of the economy, particularly in the Construction Industry where Tom had previous experience. Many of the jobs that Tom applied for did not materialise therefore Jobcentre Plus referred Tom to GIPSIL, to attend the Opportunity Shop – a service that supports & advises people on creating CV’s, applying for jobs, gaining employments skills through volunteering and gaining access into training and/or education.
Tom attended the GIPSIL Opportunity Shop for around a year before deciding to apply to become a volunteer with Elevate. Wayne Dixon – Coordinator of the Opportunity Shop – said that Tom did “take some persuading” to become a volunteer.
In July 2014, Tom attended a taster session then committed to attend for two days each week for the next 6 weeks. Tom brought some great experience and skills to the Elevate team, particularly when working on the empty homes. Tom quickly developed into a keys member of the team and really thrived. Tom had been struggling to sleep of a night but always told us what a great night of sleep he would get after a day of volunteering with Elevate.
Following the 6 week placement that Tom had initially committed to, Elevate decided to offer Tom a paid role. His work ethic, reliability & expertise warranted that he should get paid for the two days he was attending. With the help of GIPSIL’s Welfare Rights Team – in particular Linda – we came up with an arrangement that suited Tom and Elevate alike. A job offer was made to Tom at the end of November 2014, with Tom being due to start work formally in mid-December.
At the beginning of December 2014, Tom was collected from home on a Monday morning. He was feeling unwell. Our team put it down to him not eating much over the weekend due to him not having any food at home. On route to the site, Tom, Elevate’s Maintenance Operative and another volunteer stopped to get a bite to eat which seemed to make Tom feel much better. Tom was adamant that he wanted to volunteer despite feeling a little under the weather.
Later that day, Tom became unresponsive and looked like he was sleeping. A member of the team tried to wake him, but it was clear that there was a problem. An ambulance was called and it arrived within 7 minutes, taking Tom to the Leeds General Infirmary. Our Maintenance Coordinator, Matt went with him in the ambulance.
Within an hour of arriving at the hospital, we received news that Tom had suffered a stroke and that the prognosis wasn’t good. The next 48 hours were going to be crucial. Over the next few days it became apparent that Tom doesn’t have a support network to bring him clothes or visit him in hospital. The Elevate team came together to support him getting hold of pyjamas and toiletries that would be needed. The members of the team that had supported Tom during his time as a volunteer came together and visited Tom in hospital – after work – each evening for next few weeks.
Despite the odds being stacked against him, Tom fully recovered from the effects of his stroke. Tom is certainly hardy and determined, something that the team reminds him of regularly. Tom recently returned to Elevate as a volunteer, something he wanted to do from the day he was discharged from hospital, he used it as his motivation to recover.
Tom recently moved from the bed-sit where he has lived in for many years into a very nice flat, in an over 50’s complex. This seemed to be the final piece of the jigsaw in terms of the challenges to overcome. Tom is enjoying life and enjoying volunteering.
Tom was recently asked what Elevate means to him. These are some of the things that Tom said:
“A life changing experience”
“Given me a purpose in life and I feel a valued member of the team”.
“Volunteering is good for my mental health”
Richard’s StoryVolunteer Administrator
Richard was referred to GIPSIL’s Opportunity Shop by Jobcentre Plus back in mid-2013 and expressed a desire to work in an Administrator Role. Richard has excellent computer skills and wanted to gain some experience & confidence working within an office environment. Elevate were looking for a volunteer Office Administrator to help out.
In December 2013, Richard was introduced to Elevate and started a volunteer placement, attending every Wednesday without fail. The placement helped Richard gain experience in many different operations within an office environment. Volunteering for Elevate enabled Richard to study for an NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration.
Richard became a valued member of the team and over time his confidence grew. In September 2015 Richard successfully gained employment for a large corporate retailer. We were sad to see Richard leave but very happy to see him progress into paid employment.
Robert’s StoryVolunteer Maintenance Worker
Robert had left Local Authority Care and was being housed & supported by GIPSIL when he came to volunteer for Elevate. His ambition was to become a joiner. Robert was already studying for an NVQ Level 2 in joinery at the local building college.
Robert was very keen and had a real talent for joinery. However, he had fallen behind with his college work when his Support Worker asked Elevate to speak to the college and intervene – if necessary – to ensure that he gained his qualification.
A member of the Elevate team attended a meeting with Robert Course Coordinator, agreeing a way forward. The Elevate team then came together to help Robert complete his coursework and photographic evidence gained when working on Elevate projects.
Robert was awarded his NVQ Level 2 in joinery, a great achievement that we are all very proud of.