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'I liked volunteering so much I wanted to work here'

Published on 30 May 2023 11:11 AM

Volunteering is not just a way of giving back, it’s a way of getting a job – as 15 of Age UK Barnet employees have discovered! A few are pictured here with actor Don Warrington who came in to volunteer for a morning.

Tom (top pic), an IT volunteer who helped older people get to grips with their smart phones and laptops, was not even looking for a job. ‘It’s only when I was approached for the position that I realised I really wanted it,’ says Tom, who now works part time sorting out the charity’s tech problems.

Volunteering is a great way to find out about an organisation, as Jeannete found out. She started volunteering with the charity’s dementia adviser team after giving up work, and this is now turned into a two-day-a-week paid job. ‘The work is so varied and there are so many different areas you could be involved in,’ says Jeanette. ‘And volunteering helps you to better understand what the organisation does so you can work out where your skills might be best suited.’

Emma (bottom left in photo) started volunteering as a dementia befriender offering weekly companionship to someone living with dementia. ‘Volunteering helped me feel connected to the organisation and the team so I jumped at the chance when a social prescribing job came up.’

For Joka (bottom right in photo), however, the journey from volunteer to employment was life changing. She originally came to Age UK Barnet to volunteer after her husband died. ‘I hadn’t worked in 20 years because I was caring for my husband and I was totally lost,’ says Joka. ‘Because I was so nervous,  I volunteered in the kitchen behind the scenes, helping to make meals for the day club.’

Shaking with nerves on her first day, over time with everyone’s support she slowly built her confidence.  ‘I couldn’t believe my luck when I was offered a job,’ says Joka. ‘It’s something that I never thought was possible. I still get stressed and scared sometimes but I can’t believe that I’m part of this lovely group of people and I feel I belong. I’m not scared of work, the only thing I was scared of was not fitting in.’

Volunteer manager Lisa Robbins says: ‘When you volunteer for a charity, you gain a deeper understanding of its mission, values and culture and, although it does not guarantee a job if you apply, it may well increase your chances.’

‘On top of this, charities offer a wide range of services so jobs come up in areas that many volunteers did not know existed until they got involved.’

‘What’s lovely about working for Age UK Barnet is that staff and volunteers all share a passion to improve the lives of older people.’

For Joka's full story, click here.

If you are interested in volunteering, check out our roles on the volunteering page of our website or contact Lisa on or phone 020 8432 1422