Employment Plus

Helping people into employment

Stephanie: from four-week placement to paid work

Stephanie: from four-week placement to paid work

Stephanie completed a college course on childcare but struggled to find work. While claiming Jobseekers Allowance she asked the Jobcentre about work experience opportunities and was referred to a church-run Salvation Army charity shop in East Scotland through a Mandatory Work Activity Placement. Although it was initially a four-week placement, Stephanie requested an extension. She still volunteers once a week.

Looking back on her placement, Stephanie said: “Before my volunteer placement, I would have described myself as ‘quite shy’ and not very good at interacting with other people. I had big dreams to fulfil, but was not sure how to do it. Since my placement I have more confidence and now have a better idea of the direction I am heading, what I want to do and how to progress forward.”

Stephanie started her work experience by sorting clothes in the shop’s backroom and learnt about the day-to-day running of the shop. Staff then trained her up on the till, encouraged her to interact with customers and introduced her to the shop’s banking system.

Built confidence

“I learnt every aspect of the workings of the shop, which was really good. Working at the charity shop built up my confidence, particularly through meeting all the Salvation Army people and other volunteers. I learnt how to interact with all different people. This has helped me in moving into a new job, reminding me how to approach it and how to conduct myself.”

The shop manager and other staff members provided Stephanie with positive feedback and plenty of support, boosting Stephanie’s confidence further. They also spent time getting to know Stephanie, too.

Career development

“The team found out I was interested in working in childcare, so got me involved in the church parent-and-toddler group – this provided me with practical experience to help me find work with children. At the shop I handled money and the trust in myself and from others that was built up transferred into my new job at the Post Office and shop, where I could show how capable and reliable I am. I’m using everything I was taught there.

“I enjoyed meeting all the people – we have a really good bunch of volunteers and it was a laugh, interacting with customers and getting to know people coming into the shop.”

Stephanie decided to continue as a volunteer once a week. “The Salvation Army has done so much for me, providing me with experience in childcare and retail. I felt I’d like to give back to them my time as a way of saying ‘thank you’. I also get to see some of the people I worked with and the customers, too, who I continue to build relationships with."

Best opportunity

“The Salvation Army listened to what I wanted to do in life and helped me to get the best experience to make sure I had the best opportunity to go forward and get the best job in the future.

“Without The Salvation Army I believe I would still be stuck on Jobseekers Allowance and wouldn’t have had as much confidence. The Salvation Army has helped me a lot.”

Stephanie now has two jobs: working five mornings a week in a playgroup and five afternoons a week in a Post Office and shop.