Sam and Matthew have been volunteering at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House every Wednesday afternoon during this academic year. This has been a placement organised by The Manchester College as part of their preparing for internship programme supporting young people with learning disabilities to support them into employment.
Matthew, who has Down Syndrome, enjoys ‘making good coffee’ and told me that being at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House makes him smile more. We shared some of his favourite memories of volunteering which included dressing up and teaching some of the team Makaton. He also told me he’s the best volunteer at washing up. Matthew also volunteers at the Imperial War Museum and will be taking up paid employment in September in a hospital. We are delighted to have helped Matthew in his employment journey, and having him on the volunteer team has been a great pleasure to us all.
At 17 Sam is one of our youngest volunteers and has also been working in the Tea Room every Wednesday afternoon as he wanted to get experience working in a hospitality environment with a view to working in travel and tourism. Sam wanted to meet new people and that’s exactly what he has done whilst volunteering at the House including meeting Manchester MP Lucy Powell and being interviewed by BBC Radio Manchester. Sam had never heard of the House before he started his placement, but after his first visit he was really impressed and wanted to join the team. Sam has learnt lots of new skills including ways to improve his communication skills, to work independently and to work in a Tea Room in a professional manner. He also completed the Food Hygiene training level 2 whilst volunteering with us. Sam will be going on to do a Level 1 Travel and Tourism Course in September.
Sam told me he has really enjoyed ‘learning new things, meeting new people and the House now feels like a second-home to him’
Sam met MP Lucy Powell in March as part of English Tourism Week, which was a great chance for him to show off his new skills such as working the till and selling items of merchandise (she bought a mug!). Sam has Autism and Aspersers and he faces lots of challenges including learning how to work independently and how to process instructions. Sam finished our chat by saying ‘It’s been amazing and I’ve been very happy at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House’.
Finally we want to say a big thank you to Victoria from Manchester College, who has mentored Sam and Matthew throughout their placement. She’s become a member of the volunteer family as much as Sam and Matthew have and we hope we will host further placements in the future.
Sally Jastrzebski-Lloyd, House Manager