October 12, 2022

Nathan’s Story

An inspiring volunteer from Coventry who has overcome his own personal barriers to support an organisation which helps those in need has been presented with an award.  Nathan, aged 21, has been presented with a certificate of appreciation by the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor John McNicholas, in recognition of his work with the charity St Francis Employability, based at St Francis of Assisi Church in Radford.
Nathan, who is autistic, began volunteering as a cleaner at the church through the charity in 2021, and has since overcome his nervousness and grown in confidence to become an integral part of the team.

As well as volunteering, he also takes part in the charity’s volunteer training programme which looks to provide participants with a range of employability skills to further strengthen their CV. Nathan was supported to secure the volunteering role by the Accelerate project, which works with a number of partner organisations to provide a range of free services and advice to those who are unemployed in Coventry and Warwickshire, ranging from help with job applications, CV writing and interview skills to support in building confidence, dealing with anxiety and overcoming barriers. He said: “I’m extremely pleased to be presented with a certificate of appreciation by the Lord Mayor of Coventry in recognition of my volunteer work.  I finished college during lockdown and didn’t know what do next, and it was my mum who signed me up to Accelerate to support me in getting a job.

Through working with Accelerate I have learnt a lot of new skills such as how to do a job search and apply for positions, and I have also taken part in a number employability courses. I also gained the voluntary position at St Francis Employability which has been fantastic. I get lots of positive feedback from the other staff which makes me feel very proud of myself.  I was nervous to volunteer at first, but I’ve grown in confidence and really enjoy it. I’ve also made a lot of friends who are always there to support me.  “I’m really thankful to Accelerate and am now continuing to work with them to find part-time paid employment, and I’m sure my award will help me with this.”  Nathan was one of a number of volunteers at St Francis Employability to be presented with the accolade, and has been praised by Accelerate for his achievements.

Suzie Crowter, Accelerate Journey Guide from partner organisation Grapevine, provided Nathan with a range of tailored support.  She said: “We are incredibly proud of Nathan, and the award is testament to his fantastic work.  When he first came to us he had completed a cleaning internship with a social housing company but didn’t have any other work experience, so I suggested a volunteering role to build on this more.  He absolutely loves the position and has gained a lot of experience and made new friends and connections.”  Suzie added: “Our main goal is now to help Nathan find paid employment in a cleaning position, and as well as working with Nathan, we are also connecting with employers to educate them about how someone with autism or other disabilities might present themselves during the recruitment process.  Although a lot of employers say they are disability confident, meaning that they are committed to being inclusive and supportive, this often isn’t the case.