Development worker

When Fiona left school she didn’t know what she wanted to do next. She struggled with her confidence and didn’t know what options were open to her. 

Volunteering with Voluntary Action Angus (VAA) opened up opportunities Fiona never expected. Now she’s working for them full-time and helping other young people in the same situation she was. 

‘I left school just before I was 16. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I kind of enjoyed singing so I thought I would do that. I didn’t manage to complete the course because of personal reasons,’ she says.  

‘I came in to VAA and started volunteering. The staff were a great support and that’s what I now try and be for the young people. I make sure that they know that my door is always open.’ 

What does your job involve?

‘Most of my job involves running the Skills Development Scotland stage two and three employability programme. 

‘The programme involves working with young people in workshops on personal development as well as practical work experience.

‘I also do work with individuals. There’s a boy who comes from school and I work with him on life skills. It can involve cooking, so we would look at what ingredients are needed and use maths skills to work out the cost.’

What parts of your job do you enjoy and look forward to?

‘I enjoy doing the workshops. When the young people first come in they have different barriers to employment, whether it’s a chaotic family life or some really struggle with their confidence. I think that I encourage them to be who they are and not to think about what other people think.’

What do the young people do next? 

‘It depends on the person but some go on to training programmes or college, there’s also stage three which involves more work experience. Three young people are now modern apprentices with us and others have gone into other employment.’ 

What challenges have you had along the way?

‘The more challenges you take on and the more situations you put yourself in and get out of your comfort zone all helps your confidence. Volunteering does help.' 

‘I struggled with the belief in myself, that I was capable of doing things. I’ve taken on different things that I though I could never do, like going into a classroom or a school assembly and speaking to a room full of young people and teachers. But then I realise after that I did ok and you get a buzz from doing it. 

‘I’ve been here seven years now, I feel like part of the furniture. It was by chance that I found out about here. I couldn’t get a job and it was getting me down.’  

What advice would you give to someone thinking of a career similar to yours?

‘Be prepared for challenges but it’s so rewarding. Some of the young people come back and thank you for what you’ve done to help them.’