Case Study

Hopeful Zoe rebuilds her job prospects

16 Feb 2024
‘I love absolutely everything about it’ is how single mum Zoe feels about her part-time volunteering role at Rebuild with Hope – the discount fashion and home outlet in Wigan’s Grand Arcade. Offering school-friendly hours, mentoring, training and the possibility of a future paid position, Zoe’s ‘volun-tear-rific’ role means she’s now perfectly placed to take the next step following nine years out of work. 

Zoe, from Platt Bridge, is part of the first group of volunteer workers to be introduced to Rebuild with Hope via the Restart Scheme, which is delivered in the region by Ingeus. It helps local jobseekers prepare for and find suitable employment and recognises the importance of volunteering in helping to train and ready long term unemployed people for the world of work. The Restart Scheme has placed 10 volunteers and three paid staff members with Rebuild’s flagship store to date. 

Despite past retail work experience Zoe struggled to find employment after a nine year spell at home caring for her mother, and latterly starting a family. With two demanding toddlers and a fear of interviews, the usually up-beat 34-year old didn’t know where to start finding work before being referred to Ingeus by Wigan Jobcentre Plus. 

“I felt down, weary with it all,” says Zoe. “I wouldn’t have changed caring for my family and loved looking after my mum but really missed seeing and talking to other people at work. I was worried though about having a big workless gap on my CV.” 

Ingeus set about rewriting Zoe’s CV, coaching her in interview skills, and applying for local vacancies. Thanks to a proactive relationship struck between Ingeus Employer Account Manager Gary Cross and the Rebuild with Hope Foundation, Zoe was shown around the store and offered a regular volunteer slot. 

“I started volunteering in November so it was great being in the busy store over Christmas,” adds Zoe. “I thought volunteering was a great idea, to get back into the swing of work gradually. We’re mentored by a member of staff and treated just like any other colleague. It’s got me out interacting with people again, not stuck at home. I’ve had some great feedback and hope to switch to paid hours over the next few weeks.” 

The ex-department store unit is now the biggest charity shop in the UK, selling heavily discounted high street brands including clothing, shoes, homeware, accessories, and gifts.  

Set up as a charitable organisation to support people with barriers to employment into work, Rebuild with Hope recruits people from all different backgrounds into its roles. Believing in ‘recruiting on attitude, employing on skills’, it places a strong emphasis on in-work training and Zoe has already benefitted from manual handling, first aid and maths training sessions. 

Zoe concludes: “I genuinely love it, the people are brilliant. It’s busy but not overwhelming and I know I’m taking a step towards paid employment, either here or with another retailer in the future. I want to earn my own money again.”

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