"I left college in 1987 and began working for a wine importer in the city centre. I was there for a number of years before being made redundant. When my Mum became ill, I started working in a bar at the Conservative Club in Levenshulme, supporting my Mum in the day but still earning money in the evenings. I stayed there until 1993 when I became a Mum myself. It was too difficult to manage caring for my Mum, my daughter and working in the bar, so I became a stay at home parent and a full-time carer.
"Eventually I started working part-time after my Mum sadly passed away. During this time, I felt like I’d been left behind so to speak. Technology had very much overtaken me. I wasn’t quite sure what direction to take and I’d just moved to another area of Longsight, which was run down and undertaking a multi-million pound period of regeneration. This is when I began volunteering with Great Places.
"I wanted to make a difference for my daughter growing up in a tough, urban inner city area. I wanted to show her that by doing positive things and getting involved, it would not only benefit myself, but her too, as well as the area we were both making a new home in.
"Over the last ten years I’ve been involved in a number of ways: from sitting on scrutiny panels to volunteering at the community laundrette. I’m currently the Vice Chair of my local community centre, as well as doing call auditing and sitting on the Funding Panel for Great Places.
"I’ve developed a multitude of different skills while volunteering with Great Places. I’ve done things I never dreamt I’d do, and I use skills within my volunteer work that I don’t even use in my day job! I can chair meetings now, apply for funding off my own back, evaluate applications, and arrange local events. Most importantly, I know how to use my voice to help myself and others within my community.
"I always felt that any projects I undertook were well planned, and I felt supported and looked after throughout. You can do as little or as much as your time will allow, and it’s very satisfying to be a part of something bigger than yourself. I feel like I can really have my say on how things are run in my area, because I’m willing to make a change and be an active part of that change.
"Volunteering has also changed the way I think on a daily basis – it has made me think outside the box more, which comes in handy when facing challenges both at work and in my personal life.
"If I had to summarise my experience in one sentence it would be: “Give it a go!” Volunteering speaks volumes to employers and counts towards your work experience too. I now have a career in the local government. The work I’ve done with Great Places really strengthened my CV and gave me the confidence to look at career avenues I never would have considered before."
If you would like to share your story like Marsha or get involved at Great Places, email us at Involvement.firstname.lastname@example.org.