17 December 2014

This autumn, the Head Office of YMCA St Paul’s Group has been so lucky as to have a new volunteer, Stuart, through a successful partnership with Balance’s Learning Disability Employment Support Service. 

Every week, Stuart takes the bus from New Malden to Surbiton, to help out with the recycling and other tasks in the YMCA LSW office to gain experience in a working environment. The minute he walks in to St James House in Surbiton, people get a smile on their face, because Stuart is always up for a chat and a cup of tea, while he makes the office clean and tidy.

Support from Balance and YMCA St Paul’s Group

Stuart is a client of the local community interest company, Balance, and it was Sevil, Stuart’s Employment Consultant at Balance, who contacted YMCA LSW to find out if there were any volunteer roles available for him in the Association.

Originally, Stuart had expressed an interest in working in the Catering department,” says Sevil. “We contacted Andy Mole, the Volunteer Co-ordinator at YMCA LSW. Unfortunately, there weren’t any available jobs in catering, but Andy called Stuart in for an interview where he did really well and after that, he’s been coming almost every week”.

Balance is a community interest company that supports people with different disabilities by organising work experience, volunteering opportunities, paid work and training,” says Sevil.

Andy Mole of YMCA LSW says Stuart has been a great addition to the YMCA team of volunteers.

“Stuart has been great since starting with us. I was impressed with Stuart the first time we met and I was keen to get him involved with YMCA LSW. Although his initial enquiry was for catering, upon speaking to him, he was very passionate about recycling and so we highlighted a role at our Corporate Offices.

Stuart arrives without fail, on time (usually early!) and gets cracking. He has been a big help around the office but also on a personal level gets on very well with everyone. When Stuart takes a break from recycling for a cup of tea, he updates me on how AFC Wimbledon and Kingstonian have been getting on and also all of the different things he’s been up to, Stuart keeps himself very busy!

Stuart’s Employment Consultant, Sevil, has been fantastic too. From helping Stuart to settle in, meeting with me every four weeks for a review and always available to contact if I need help with anything. We have a good relationship with Balance and I think the work they do is so important.”

Before coming to YMCA St Paul’s Group, Stuart had volunteered at other places. However, Stuart wasn’t happy with every aspect of his old job.

Being here is better than my previous job because I get to do more different things. Also, on the previous place they had Elvis on all the time and I got a bit tired of that!”

In his spare time

Stuart lives in a shared house in New Malden. In his spare time he is extremely active, doing lots of walking. As he says, “I don’t like siting still, it’s boring!”

Instead, he occasionally goes bowling or helps out on social events for the residents, like the disco. Also, he follows his football teams, AFC Wimbledon and Kingstonian FC, closely.

In addition, Stuart takes his job hunting very seriously, and almost every day, he walks to the newsagents stand to check out the job ads in the local paper.

Dreams of a full time job

Eventually, Stuart hopes that his experiences from volunteering at the YMCA will help him get another paid job, but as he says, “it’s hard without a licence”.

Ideally, Stuart would love to work in in a supermarket or a Canteen, but in the meantime, before he lands a paid job, he feels that helping out at the YMCA is a good way to learning new skills and gain work experience with a friendly and welcoming team.