The Journey from Volunteering to Employment – Sian’s Story

Sian, Doorway’s Administrator, was recently interviewed by the Volunteer Centre Wiltshire and her story has just been published on their website.

Sian had recently completed an Open University degree in Psychology and was looking for something new to do with her spare time. She had been aware of Doorway through publicity in the local newspaper and thought it would be beneficial and worthwhile to support their work. As Doorway work with some of the more vulnerable members of our community Sian thought it would be a good opportunity for her to gain experience and build confidence and knowledge of working in this sector.

When Sian started volunteering she was very keen to support all areas within the drop-in session so she did whatever was necessary to support guests such as loading the washing machines, cleaning the shower and chatting with guests over a cup of tea. She increasingly found herself in the kitchen washing up, making toast, frying eggs or serving breakfasts and found that keeping busy suited her very well. Sian still enjoyed being able to engage with guests over the serving hatch or during breaks.

Sian enjoyed engaging with guests but also meeting other volunteers. Doorway has 45 volunteers and Sian enjoyed being part of the diverse, dedicated team.

Before volunteering at Doorway Sian had been a school governor (another voluntary role) and this had improved her confidence as she had to speak in front of parents and teachers and chair meetings. However, volunteering and working at Doorway has enabled her to speak with confidence to all members of society. Doorway also provide extensive training to staff and volunteers which Sian has been encouraged to participate in throughout her time there. Although Sian is no longer at the drop-in sessions, training in drug and alcohol awareness, domestic abuse, housing and benefits has not only increased Sian’s skills but also enables her to deal with queries from members of the public and guests at the office. Knowledge of volunteering within the drop-in session is also invaluable to her current work and enables her to work effectively to support colleagues, volunteers and guests.

Personally, the main benefit of volunteering for Sian was that she gained employment after 17 years of being out of the workplace environment. She was aware that the previous administrator was leaving and that her post would be available. Sian had a chat with the Chief Executive, Lisa, about whether she thought she might be suitable for the role, as although she had no office experience she had acquired IT skills and qualifications when her children started school. Sian was encouraged to apply as Lisa had seen from working in the drop-in that she was organised and efficient. The multi-tasking skills, using her initiative, prioritising and flexibility that was required to fulfil Sian’s various commitments over the years, stood her in good stead for being able to provide administrative support to Doorway.

Sian knows that volunteering has definitely improved her employment chances as it is so much easier to get a job if you are able to demonstrate skills and experience. She will always be immensely grateful to the Chief Executive and Doorway for believing in her and for giving her the confidence to apply for, and then be successful in, her job.

Sian says that “without a doubt volunteering, whether at Doorway, as a school governor or on a committee, enabled me to develop the skills and experience to return to the workplace confidently. I cannot recommend it highly enough”.

To find out more about a volunteer opportunity contact Volunteer Centre Wiltshire on 0845 521 6224 or visit our website

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