At the end of last year I felt like I was being pressurised more and more by the Job Centre. It caused me a great deal of frustration and anxiety, but it also served to get me moving, specifically by looking for the opportunity to do some volunteering. The Mustard Tree offered me what I was looking for: the experience of being in a supportive working environment. I am now 38 and I’ve never had a proper job. I want to provide for my children and ensure they get the start in life that I missed out on. I was having a conversation with my oldest son in which I was encouraging him to get into employment. My 8 year old son overheard and asked me, ‘How come you don’t have a job, dad?’

If you find yourself being unemployed like so many others, and happen to have an expired CSCS card, you could check out CSCS card renewal and get yourself back on your feet and find your passion again.

I started on the Freedom Project in mid-January and it has changed my outlook on life. In short, I thought I had problems, until I came here! I’ve been volunteering in the shop, and it’s not just about assisting people with their purchases. It has been more about listening to their stories and being a part of the solution that the Mustard Tree can offer to meet their needs. Working in the shop alongside Mustard Tree staff has enabled me to grow both in confidence and in understanding other people.

For the last 2½ years I’ve had a serious offence hanging over my head, waiting for that call from the courts. My positive start at Mustard Tree and the enjoyment of volunteering had pushed this thought to the back of my mind… until I got the notification I was dreading! Johnny, the Freedom Project manager, was very supportive through this process and wrote a touching letter of support. In the end the case was dropped because of insufficient evidence. This has been another weight off my shoulders since I started volunteering.

In my short time being here I have managed to get my CSCS card, which allows me to get work on building sites. Before starting I had tried to get my card but never passed: having other people around me who really believe in me has been the boost I needed. I have also signed up with 12 different agencies and I feel like I am ready for work. At the end of March, through the Mustard Tree Job Club, I was offered a Ready for Work placement with Carillion Construction. I am not even half way through my 20 weeks with the Freedom Project and already so much has happened to improve my life. My goal is to get a paid job, which looks now much more realistic.

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