I can’t believe how much my life has changed in the space of just one year

LIFE-CHANGING Ian Cardoza's volunteering at GAIN helped him get a job.
LIFE-CHANGING Ian Cardoza's volunteering at GAIN helped him get a job.
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Gosport Advice and Information Network (GAIN) helped Ian Cardoza get back into work

In the autumn of 2014 I found myself unemployed after a period of prolonged illness.

During one of my regular meetings with my Job Centre Plus work coach I mentioned that I struggled financially.

The coach told me about a course called Make Your Money Go Further, offered free of charge by the Gosport Advice and Information Network (GAIN), that he felt might be beneficial for me.

A couple of months later I attended one of the workshops. The tutor was enthusiastic and helpful.

Keeping a record of my daily spending opened my eyes to how much the little treats, like my daily can of Coke, can add up over the course of the month.

We also found out about universal credit – a new type of benefit that is currently being rolled out across the UK, which will replace six existing benefits.

I had been totally unaware of this and of the impact this might have on me.

After the course had finished, my work coach suggested that it might help my job prospects if I did some volunteering. As my experience at the GAIN workshop had been so positive, I popped into their office to ask about any volunteering opportunities they might have.

I was made very welcome and together with some other volunteers I was invited to attend an interview.

Everyone was really supportive and made us feel at ease, which was a nice surprise as interviews are usually quite a daunting experience.

Soon after the interview I was able to provide admin support for the GAIN office one afternoon a week. I really enjoyed it, as it was a very informal and relaxed atmosphere.

After a while I also got involved in volunteer training and it gave me a huge confidence boost to stand up and talk in front of a group of volunteers.

While I was volunteering I continued to apply for jobs and I now work full-time for the HMRC in an administrative role.

Being a GAIN volunteer has not only given me more confidence and a better CV 
– which ultimately helped me get my current job – but it has also connected me with some lovely people.

Not surprisingly I still pop into the GAIN office from time to time – and still get greeted with a warm smile.

For information about volunteering opportunities with GAIN visit gain-gosport.org.uk or call (023) 9258 8035.