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Volunteer for a great experience, urges Andrew

Andrew Gamble recently met Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor John Lines and discussed volunteering opportunities for unemployed people

An unemployed Birmingham man, bravely battling disability and serious illness, is urging fellow jobseekers to consider voluntary work to help them on the road back to full-time employment.

Andrew Gamble, who has cerebral palsy, is actively job searching after being referred to Work Programme providers Pertemps People Development Group (PPDG) in Harborne.

To enhance his job search Andrew, aged 29, from Quinton, volunteers his spare time with the Healthy Gay Life Centre (HGL) on Frank Street in Birmingham, and advocates volunteering as a positive step towards securing employment.

Helping Andrew is Stephanie Davies, an employment coach with the provider supporting customers on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) for those with health conditions or who are registered disabled. She says Andrew is an inspiration to others in showing such a positive desire to improve his employability prospects through volunteering.

“People often say to me, ‘There are no jobs out there’ or ‘I don’t have the confidence to work’ and I always respond with ‘why not volunteer?’,” said Andrew.

It is hard to find a job in this economic climate but you can put yourself in pole position to get that elusive opportunity through volunteering, he added.

Three years ago Andrew was diagnosed with cancer. The treatment meant he was unable to concentrate on looking for full-time work and he became tired, depressed and demotivated.

“I was really missing the social interaction with people,” said Andrew. “Then one day I noticed a plea for volunteers in the window of the HGL premises. So I dropped in, had a coffee and found a group of people who had the time to listen to my story. I could do that, I thought, and two years on I’m still involved and using the experience to concentrate on getting a job.”

He added: “The big problem with being unemployed is trying to keep busy but after getting involved with a charity I’ve reached the following conclusions.

“Volunteering is the best thing I’ve ever done and the benefits are numerous. Firstly, it’s given me a sense of purpose and although HGL don’t employ me directly, they provide a reason for me to get up in the morning and give me direction.

“Life is no longer passing me by. I hardly left the house before but now my circle of friends has increased immensely. They are friends who I can confide in and share problems with. I am part of something rather than being on my own.

“Volunteering has also given me the added bonus of having some relevant experience and skills to put on my CV, demonstrating that I want to work and giving me something to talk about in an interview. Above all else I’m giving something back to society and if I can make difference by helping someone, what better motivation is there?” Contact HGL on 0121 440 6161 for more information on volunteering.

PPDG won the five to seven year Work Programme contract as a prime deliverer in the Birmingham, Solihull and Black Country region in a national tendering process carried out by the Government. PPDG’s team of employment experts provides advice on benefits, confidence building, one- to-one support, CV and interview preparation as well as finding the right job or training course. In partnership with DWP, the Ministry of Justice and Jobcentre Plus, PPDG delivers a diverse range of employment and training initiatives and many programmes financed by the European Social Fund. PPDG came fourth in The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for 2011.

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