A volunteer from Citizen’s Advice Mid Mercia has taken her career off hold by progressing into her first job in almost two decades.
Jacqui Locke, a 52 year old from Derby, left her promising role as a HR Manager around 19 years ago to focus on caring for her children whilst her husband worked away.
As her four children have now started to leave the nest, Jacqui decided it was time to get back into a career mindset.
Jacqui said: “It’s easy to get into the mindset of I’ve not worked, nobody is going to want to employ me. I’d been out of things and an awful lot has changed in the last twenty years in terms of technology. The world has moved on quite significantly.
“I was thinking I would like to do something, I didn’t know what I’d like to do, but knew it had to be something that uses my brain but helps make a difference.”
Jacqui decided to approach Citizen’s Advice as a volunteer after hearing positive things from a friend who had been part of the Surrey branch.
Citizen’s Advice Mid Mercia had just hired Nicola Riley as a volunteer support mentor at the time, using a grant of £9,973 from The Coalfields Regeneration Trust’s Coalfields Community Investment Programme, to recruit a whole new batch of volunteers.
Jacqui was taken on as a trainee assessor, and went through an “intense” training procedure which mixed online module tests with shadowing, as well as being supported by a supervisor every step of the way.
In light of Covid-19, assessors conduct all their work over the phone. This mostly involves answering calls from individuals looking for support on issues like debt, unemployment, housing problems, relationships and more.
Nicola said: “From the day I interviewed Jacqui she instantly showed the qualities we look for in a Phone Assessor. She was very caring, enthusiastic, and a good listener, and she enjoyed and took pride in completing our Assessor Training Program. It was very rewarding to see her begin to shine and rebuild her confidence after spending some time looking after her family. After all of her commitment and time as a volunteer, it’s great to see her now working with our Advice Team as a paid member of staff”.
Jacqui was offered the opportunity to take her volunteering to the next level as an employed member of staff, and joined Citizen’s Advice as a part-time member of staff working three days a week.
Jacqui added: “I do enjoy it, it’s quite varied. You get to talk to a lot of different people from varying backgrounds with lots of different issues to deal with. I think that there are an awful lot of people who without citizen’s advice to support them and give them help would really struggle.”
Andy Hopkins, Service Manager for Citizen’s Advice Mid Mercia, said: “If we have opportunities to move promising volunteers into employed work like Jacqui then that’s a great success. Recruiting from volunteers makes sense as they know the organisation, they know the role, they know how to do it – it’s a win-win situation.”
For more information about funding opportunities offered by The Coalfields Regeneration Trust in England, head to: https://www.coalfields-regen.org.uk/funding-and-programmes/england/.