Two volunteers are sprinting ahead to a career in fitness after securing employment in County Durham leisure centres.
Karen Lamb was studying towards a gym instructor qualification when she started volunteering at Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre, shadowing the fitness instructors and assisting customer inductions as well as general day-to-day support of staff.
She was recently offered a casual assistant role with Durham County Council and believes the skills and experience she gained whilst volunteering were invaluable to securing the job.
Karen said: “I’ve always wanted to work in leisure and really enjoyed the time I spent volunteering.
“When the vacancies came up I applied and was thrilled to get an interview.
“I definitely think the experience, skills and support I received through the council’s Volunteer Durham programme has played a big part in me getting the job.”
Similarly, James Bulmer started volunteering at Woodhouse Close Leisure Centre and was supported by Volunteer Durham with regards to retraining, gaining his pool lifeguard and gym instructor qualification.
His passion for working in the leisure sector shone through and by spending a few hours a week volunteering, he too has secured a casual role.
James said: “Volunteering gave me the chance to meet different people and learn the role from the inside but most importantly it gave me the opportunity to gain the qualifications needed.
“The interviewers were definitely impressed that I’d been giving up my time – it showed them I was committed to progressing my career in the leisure industry.
“It’s not just about getting experience either, building contacts and a rapport with the organisation really help too.”
Last year, more than 4,500 people volunteered with Durham County Council’s Volunteer Durham, supporting everything from festivals, walking, cycling and running groups, to libraries and museums and much more.
Julie Lavery, volunteer and skills manager at Durham County Council, said: “Volunteers like Karen and James make a huge difference across the county on a daily basis.
“I’m thrilled that the skills and knowledge they gained from volunteering have helped them secure jobs. Our aim is to ensure volunteers gain valuable experience and receive the support needed, especially if they wish to gain employment.
“Getting experience and enhancing your CV as well as improving physical, social and mental wellbeing are just some of the reasons to volunteer and we are always on the lookout for more people to sign up. I would encourage anyone thinking about it to find out more.”
Inspired to volunteer? Check out all of the opportunities available at the council and throughout County Durham at www.durham.gov.uk/volunteering