When she was younger, Ellen missed a year and a half of school due to an illness which left her unable to walk. She spent the subsequent months learning how to use her legs again and catching up with her school work having fallen so far behind. When she left school, Ellen lacked confidence and had little success when looking for work.

Ellen found out about the Get Started with Experiments programme with GlaxoSmithKline through Youth Connections. During the course Ellen felt her confidence grow and she became more motivated. She said that her biggest challenge was standing up in front of everyone at the end of programme presentation, but that this was also the biggest reward, giving her a great sense of achievement.

Following the programme, Ellen was partnered with a volunteer mentor called Karen who could help her with planning and achieving her next steps. Ellen was keen to be supported by an experienced mentor would could offer advice about completing job applications and interview technique.

Karen says “We got on well; I think this process worked well for Ellen. We initially concentrated on her CV, she had loads of skills and experiences that she’d missed out on her first draft. We then decided the volunteer sector was ideal for the experience she needed.”

Karen and Ellen worked together for eight months and during this time Ellen secured a number of volunteering roles, which helped her to develop a passion for animal care and decide on what she wants to do next.

Reflecting back on the experiences, Karen says:

I cannot speak for Ellen directly but I believe her biggest achievements since becoming involved with The Trust are identifying a career path and a great boost in confidence, especially around public speaking!  Personally, I have gained a valuable insight into the world of work for young people and challenges they face.

Ellen says:

I would recommend having a mentor as they can help you to see things that you have missed in things like applications and advise you appropriately. As well as being someone you can to talk to and trust.

Ellen is now in college completing a Level 3 Animal Management course and continues to volunteer in a charity shop and for the Blue Cross.

Karen continues to volunteer with The Trust and encourages other professionals to consider volunteering themselves. She says “If you are interested in volunteering for The Trust, go for it.  There are lots of clichés about 'giving something back' and 'finding out a bit about yourself', but they are true. I have met mentors from all different backgrounds and they have so many skills to share that will, importantly, have a big impact on the young people they work with.”