Putting volunteering at the heart of preparing for work

A new partnership is hoping to increase volunteering opportunities for people wanting to overcome their barriers to work and training.

Step Forward Tees Valley, which is run by the Northern Inclusion Consortium (NIC) and jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund, has joined forces with Citizen’s Advice Darlington to make it easier for people who are out of work to volunteer.

Step Forward Tees Valley brings different organisations together to offer practical support to help people resolve issues, such as self-confidence, addiction, a conviction or ill health, so they can move their lives forward.

By working with Citizen’s Advice Darlington, it is hoped more people will be able to take advantage of a wide range of volunteering opportunities which will boost their confidence, teach them new skills and ultimately could lead to work or training placements.

Citizen’s Advice Darlington will work with organisations to promote volunteering opportunities and make sure anyone who wants to volunteer gets the support and help they need.

Helen Collins, Step Forward programme manager, said: “For some people who face challenges in their life the thought of working or training can be intimidating. Volunteering is a great way to build self-confidence and learn new skills. Darlington CAB will help make sure organisations who want volunteers can be put in touch with people who will really benefit from the opportunity.”

Participants on the programme have already been involved in volunteering with the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, Norton Sports Charity, Darlington Cares and other projects.

One participant said: “I got a chance to meet new people and feel useful doing something worthwhile. I was helping others and helping myself at the same time. I am looking forward now instead of back.”

Neeraj Sharmo, CEO of Citizen’s Advice Darlington, said: “This exciting programme has been designed to help individuals and organisations with the development of volunteer participation. Voluntary sector organisations will be able to access free training and support, enabling them to develop, embed and grow volunteer opportunities within their organisation. Individuals will benefit from this expansion by taking up volunteer opportunities which will support them to build career skills for work, contribute to the local community and make new friends.”



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