Volunteering gets Simon’s career back on track


“I had an incredible time at First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO) on placement and my experience will undoubtedly help me with my career. Thank you to the Neighbourhoods Team that helped me.” says customer Simon Duffy who volunteered with us to get back on the road to employment. Now he’s on track for a career as an Environmental Health Officer/practitioner. Congratulations Simon – well deserved!

Simon was supported by the Volunteering Service in our Directions Team after losing his job and suffering with low confidence.

“I was struggling to find the motivation to feel like I would ever get back into work again. I was trying very hard, but with every unsuccessful job application, the rejection became more difficult to take.” says Simon reflecting on that period.

He needed an opportunity to really showcase his skills and prove to himself that his mental health wasn’t a barrier to him getting into paid employment.

“I knew that taking a placement with us would help Simon to take back control and really feel like he was part of the workforce again and a respected colleague,” says Naomi Martin-Smith, our Volunteer Co-Ordinator. She supported Simon to take up a voluntary role with our Neighbourhoods Team to get valuable work experience, increase his skills and boost his confidence.

“I met some cracking people while I was there and I was able to turn what had been a negative situation into a positive, happy one and see that I’d done something good, “ says Simon.

“I’ve got two young children and I want to let them see that their parents are working so they’ve got that in their mind set for when they grow up.”

Fast forward to today and Simon has gained a professional qualification in Environmental Health and is looking forward to a successful career in the field.

“I would like FCHO to know just how instrumental that nine week placement with the Neighbourhoods Team was for me and the ongoing impact their work has for people in a similar position as me. The experience has stood me in good stead for my chosen career path and I’d like to say thank you.”

Naomi says: “We love to keep in touch with our clients and hear about their achievements after they’ve moved on from us and Simon’s story is wonderful. His placement helped him to see he had the skills and knowledge to get back into work, and gave him the confidence he needed - I wish him the best of luck for the future.”

We’ve paused our Community Volunteer Service temporarily due to Covid-19, but we have already started to plan our return and we’ll be back soon. In the meantime our Directions employment service can support you when you are looking for work and training and our experienced team of advisors are running their service online and by phone. To see how we can help you, email directions@fcho.co.uk or call 0161 393 5550.

Volunteers’ Week is a celebration of the contribution that millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. Join us all week on Twitter and Facebook where we’ll be marking our Volunteering service’s achievements and thanking all our wonderful volunteers for their continued hard work.