A big ‘well done’

The Accelerate project came to a close in April 2023, here are two case studies demonstrating the impact of the project on the lives of it's participants

Linda Castling

“My journey has not been an easy road. I don’t know where I would be without the help and support from my Journey Guide and the Team at VAC” Linda Castling, Accelerate participant.

Linda Castling accessed support from Accelerate with Voluntary Action Coventry between November 2021 and August 2022. After losing her partner to cancer and being made redundant from her previous job, she needed support with her anxieties. Linda stated:

“My partner’s death had a devastating effect on my mental health and I struggled with the grieving process…"

Linda firstly wanted to return to her normal self by re-gaining her confidence through volunteering. She began engaging in VAC’s Improving Lives volunteering course where she learnt about the different volunteering opportunities and the benefits of volunteering.

As a result of the support given by Accelerate and Voluntary Action Coventry, Linda’s confidence improved and she was proactively looking for things to do in her spare time

“Tia, my Journey guide introduced me to courses which were online this has helped me regain my confidence.” 

Linda needed signposting to different internal and external partners for support to help with her future.  Linda attended some employability and confidence workshops from Accelerate partners Optima training and Orbit training that helped her to identify and overcome some confidence barriers. She then did a cooking activity and Level 1 and 2 food hygiene with Volunteer Friends (a charity encouraging friendships, combating isolation and celebrating independent living) which helped to improve her cooking skills: something her partner had always taken a lead on.

During the Accelerate project Linda decided to approach some charity shops for volunteering experience. Linda has been volunteering at Mary Ann Evan's Hospice charity shop in Coventry City Centre for a few hours per week since February 2022 and also became a volunteer for Compassion Communities in August 2022 supporting bereaved participants. 

Accelerate supported unemployed people from across Coventry and Warwickshire accessing volunteering opportunities, building confidence, increasing motivation and developing skills. This project finished at Voluntary Action Coventry in March 2023 and is no longer open to participants. Accelerate was a Building Better Opportunities Project, funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund. It is managed by Coventry and Warwickshire CDA in partnership with a range of local organisations.

Gareth Pritchard 

 Gareth worked with Accelerate Journey Guide Tia Bhayat to progress into volunteering at The Pantry St Giles Social Supermarket. He is now started an NVQ in Advice and Guidance.

 A big thank you to St Giles Charity for all their support throughout out this journey! He has started an NVQ in Advice and Guidance and has been volunteering at the Pantry Social Super Market at St Giles for the past year.

Gareth Pritchard starting the Accelerate programme at Voluntary Action Coventry in January 2022. He wanted to gain assistance into volunteering in Mental Health as his aspiration is to become a Mental Health Nurse.  He had no volunteering experience in this area. Gareth himself struggles with mental health and physical health issues and wanted to use his knowledge and life experience to encourage others to gain mental health support.  

Gareth worked with Tia Bhayat, his Journey Guide from the Accelerate Project at Voluntary Action Coventry, to find suitable volunteering and training.  After considering which route to take to gain skills Gareth decide to do various training with St Giles Charity. He firstly attended the Learn to Advise course, a pre-course before progressing on the NVQ 3 in Advice and Guidance.  

While Gareth attended the ‘learn to advise’ course he was approached by St Giles Charity to do volunteering in their social supermarket, the Pantry. Gareth volunteered as an assistant to work with other volunteers in the Panty, assisting with deliveries from various supermarkets/Food Donations and support the Panty with participant enquires. Due to this Gareth felt he gained more confidence and it gave him a sense of purpose. He felt confident and comfortable volunteering for St Giles Pantry.   After 6 months of being on the Accelerate programme Gareth decided to do more volunteering. His Journey Guide, Tia Bhayat, connected him to Coventry and Partnership Trust NHS. Gareth successfully gained an volunteering opportunity with them as a Patient & Carer Experience Feedback Volunteer and he is in the process of completing some training with them. 

Gareth exited the Accelerate programme in February 2023 as he felt that he acquired the confidence skills to progress into training in advice and Guidance. He is currently interested in volunteering for Healthwatch (Voluntary Action Coventry) to strengthen his work/volunteering skills and he would like to do an apprenticeship with the NHS in the future.  

Accelerate participants Michael Curley and Gareth Pritchard with Amanda Steel, Orbit Housing trainer for Voyager: A Journey into: Confidence, Self-Esteem and Motivation day session.