Claire Gardner - Volunteering journey
Claire and her young son moved to the Llandudno area in September 2014. As a single parent without support from family and friends, Claire was lacking in confidence and apprehensive of this new start in her life, of the challenges she may face, but also excited and nervous as to what the future would hold for her.
Claire has always had a passion for holistic therapies and wellbeing and qualified as a Reiki Master in May 2015. Her sense of achievement in qualifying and wish to help others, means she enrolled on an Introduction to Counselling, Level 2 at Llandrillo College. Whilst at college, Claire experienced many positives and her confidence returned. This put Claire on a high and she was feeling so positive, she wanted to step further outside her comfort zone, so expressed her wish to her advisor at the job centre and that is where she came upon CVSC, as the advisor recommended volunteering.
A referral was then made to us, CVSC, in September 2016 to explore the possibility of volunteering in an opportunity to complement her college counselling studies. Donna Jones, CVSC Volunteer Development Officer contacted Claire, a telephone conversation ensued discussing potential suitable opportunities of which one was the Volunteer Befriender role with HomeStart Conwy
HomeStart Conwy is a charity which offers a support and friendship scheme to families with young children. There are many issues which these families face, often without any help from relatives or friends. Claire fully understood how challenging it can be as a single parent, faced with the everyday issues and responsibilities and having no-one to turn to in order to support and help.
Claire completed the HomeStart Conwy training in February 2017, and found the training complemented her Counselling studies perfectly. “To say I felt a sense of purpose is an understatement, and to know I could be on the way towards helping others was a wish come true” Claire started to visit her first family in June 2017, and in July 2017 sent an email to CVSC to update them on her progress: “I have been volunteering with HomeStart for 5 weeks and everything is going really well. I have been placed with a lovely family and always look forward to my weekly visits.”
Claire now visits two families in their home, for a couple of hours a week, helping and supporting in any way she can, “If those two hours a week help someone to feel less overwhelmed with the responsibilities they face, and can feel more positive with life, then that’s something amazing to be part of. HomeStart truly does provide a lifeline to those families in need and this is something I can relate to, with full understanding. As well as helping others, my HomeStart journey has helped me immensely. It has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, as well as meet some incredible people along the way.”
“Claire is one of our valued team of volunteers, who are prepared to give their time to offer support to families who are going through difficult times.” Sylvia Chadwick, Scheme Manager, HomeStart Conwy
If you too are inspired by Claires’ journey and would like to offer some time to this worthy organisation, please contact CVSC to put you in touch with HomeStart Conwy.