Year of Volunteering - Creating opportunities by volunteering at the West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission

13 January 2020

The journey Shirley Rigby has been on with the West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission (WCPTC) over the last couple of years is proof that volunteering can help you change your life.

The WCPTC aims to tackle the root causes of poverty in west Cheshire by bringing people with lived experience of poverty, known as community inspirers, together with civic and business leaders. This allows community inspirers to put across their first-hand experience and influence how the borough thinks and acts about tackling poverty and inequality.

Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA), in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council, is running a Year of Volunteering campaign, aiming to raise the profile of volunteering and increase the number of opportunities available across the borough. CWVA’s volunteer-matching website helps people find the right opportunity for them and each month during the campaign will focus on a different theme.

With January themed as Poverty Truth Month and Blue Monday, said to be the most depressing day of the year, on 20 January, Shirley is the perfect example of how you can make a real difference in this area.
 
“All of my involvement with the PTC started when I had to use a foodbank myself,” she said. “After that, I got wind of the PTC and got invited to go along.

“Myself and a couple of other community inspirers went to the Council Chambers and put forward what we wanted to do with the PTC. 

“We achieved a lot during the first PTC as we visited the Houses of Parliament and worked closely with the Department for Work and Pensions. 

“It really helped me personally as I had not managed to find work for two years and Henry Terefenko (Co-Chair of the first WCPTC) put me in contact with the team at ForHousing, teaching me interview techniques.

“I went on to gain permanent employment and I have been in the same job for the last two years now.

“I used to suffer from anxiety and depression and standing up to speak in front of people was sometimes difficult, but that is not an issue now as the PTC has helped me to grow in confidence.”

Not only has the WCPTC supported Shirley into employment, but she has also recently been appointed Chair of the Poverty Truth Network Board, representing different PTCs across the country.

She added: “We have had one trustee meeting so far and I have taken part in governance training through CWVA.

“We would never have got the chance to have our say if it was not for the WCPTC. 

“I am hoping I can continue to make an impact through my role at the Poverty Truth Network. It is something I am really looking forward to.”
If you would like to get involved with the Year of Volunteering campaign, email: enquiries@chesterva.org.uk. Take a look at the latest volunteering opportunities at: volunteerwestcheshire.org.uk.

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