‘I’m good and there’s no looking back’

11 months ago, Lauren walked through the tsiMoray door for the first time.  Today, when she walked back in, it was hard to recognise her.

It wasn’t so much that she had changed physically; it was more about how she was holding herself — the ease in which she smiled — a calmness and assuredness that wasn’t there before.

Lauren admits it was ‘scary’ coming to the tsi for the first time. She was signposted to tsiMoray by Skills Development Scotland to see if volunteering could be a new approach to finding employment.

‘I still have all the sheets you gave to me’ says Lauren, who wasn’t sure about where she could volunteer.  ‘It was scary… I was scared of the future and what would arise…I had never, ever thought about volunteering…but when I left the office it felt good to know that I could take on something new.’

Lauren was referred to the Forres Area Community Trust to find a volunteer role with possible admin. She had taken the HNC course in admin at College but never passed.

‘Going to FACT has been good…no… it’s been great’, she says with a large smile. ‘I have achieved so much.’

Since becoming a weekly volunteer with the Forres on-line sessions, Lauren has received World Host training, an induction to volunteering, cyber security training and just recently, completed a 14 week employability programme at the Elgin Youth Café,  where she received her food hygiene and first aid certificates. She is due to start mental health first aid training at FACT later this month.  She has also received her 100 hour Saltire Award.

‘So many other doors have opened for me, which would have happened’, says Lauren. Lauren is quick to point out that her achievements are very much due to the support she receives from the volunteer co-ordinators at FACT.

‘They are really supportive. I couldn’t have asked to have a better person to support me. I can go to her if there is a problem and if I am having a bad day, I can phone in.’

Lauren can see and feel the change in herself. ‘I am proud of myself. My confidence has grown and the volunteering has helped me with my anxiety. It keeps me busy and my mind doesn’t overthink.’

‘I am doing things which help me get to know myself better, to work on my self-awareness’.  Currently, Lauren is working on her personal development with the FACT volunteer co-ordinator. ‘We are getting there. It’s hard because you are thinking about yourself.  It was a big issue in college.  I think that’s why I failed.’

As for a job, Lauren is optimistic. I got an interview recently. I was never, ever getting to the interview stage before with my c.v.’

Lauren feels she is getting her life on track. ‘I want to thank the volunteer co-ordinators at FACT for the opportunity they gave me and I want to say thank you for supporting me.’