It’s International volunteers day today – a day to raise awareness and celebrate the contribution we can all make to our communities just by giving a little of our own time. By volunteering at a local food bank or supporting a local charity you can help to improve the lives of others while enriching your own. It’s definitely something Becy Stanley is keen to encourage and here’s her story…
“What was your dream as a child? We all had one. Did you always see yourself as a firefighter, a doctor, a vet, or a football player? And, now you’ve ‘grown-up’, does the reality match that dream?
I work for a company who specialise in delivering reception services, based at a client site in the Midlands and while I absolutely love the role, it’s quite far removed from my ‘childhood dream’ job. For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to work within the criminal justice system. I wasn’t specific about how but working as a Police Officer, Family Liaison Officer, Prison Warden or helping to rehabilitate inmates really appealed to me.
Who would’ve thought I’d get to experience this dream, while doing a job I love working on reception? When I started the role I’d heard a lot about the work of the Mitie Foundation, an independent charity who’s focus is around unlocking people’s true potential and aiding them on the path to join the world of work. So, when I heard about the chance to volunteer in a women’s prison, through the company I work for, you can only imagine the sheer excitement and enthusiasm I had and I jumped at the chance.
I spent the day at HMP Drake Hall with other Mitie volunteers working with groups of inmates in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style exercise. In groups we had to develop ‘an idea’ that we could sell to the rest of the groups. Straight away the enthusiasm from the inmates was obvious; their willingness to share ideas and get involved was immense.
From the moment we walked in, to the second we left, the smiles, laughter and chatter didn’t stop. The presentations the girls gave were also second to none, and seeing their confidence shine through was heart-warming, especially when those who tried everything to get out of speaking in front of the group gave in with a huge grin on their face. I think a lot of people have misconceptions of inmates, prisons and the attitude of those inside and I’d love nothing more than to make those who have this opinion take part in one of these days.
Some of the girls we were working with asked if we’d been scared to meet them because of everything we see on the news about ‘prison riots’ etc. and they couldn’t believe it when we all shrugged this off. Why should we have been? They were just girls wanting to find a job, just as I had been last summer as far as I was concerned.
I know for a fact the girls we worked with left feeling far more confident about approaching companies for a job once they get out, and having learnt a bit more about how to get themselves across in interviews. One of them fed back that “it was like having the reset button pressed…and we could start to hope again”, but I think that all the volunteers also left having learnt a few things too.
I cannot recommend enough how amazing it was to volunteer with the Foundation and I’m still buzzing from the day now – truly humbling, inspiring and an extremely motivating day. Have I inspired you to volunteer?
Becy Stanley is a customer support team member for Mitie Client Services
For more information on The Mitie Foundation, please visit http://www.mitie.com/sustainability/the-mitie-foundation