Keith, a former client of VincentCare, is now part of our Client Volunteer program. He is studying for a Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) through the Australian Institute of Flexible Learning.
“It’s been difficult at times as I haven’t studied since I finished Year 12, I’ve had to be really disciplined and organised.
I decided to study AOD because during my own recovery the workers I really connected with at VincentCare were the ones with the lived experience, so I thought I might be able to help someone else. I’ve done some talks in front of the class; I couldn’t have done that even six months ago.
My confidence and self-esteem have come a long way in my recovery. The Client Volunteer program at Ozanam Community Centre (OCC) was developed to empower people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage to take part in activities that improve their wellbeing. Client volunteers work in a variety of roles including delivery of the meal service and drop-in program as well as external volunteer roles.
If I can continue with this I might go on to do the diploma but I’m also keen to get a job and get a foot in the door. I’ve done some peer support training and that was really good and I feel confident I can help people on their own recovery journey. I recently did a placement at Depaul House. I had forgotten how sick people are at that point and that was confronting.
If I can give people the help I got then it will be awesome. A lot of the same staff are still there and they were happy to see me come out the other side. I got to see it from the workers’ point of view and it reinforced that I really want to do this. It made me realise how far I’ve come and all the work that I’ve done.
Maybe I can’t change the world but I can help people get on the right path, and that is worth it.
The program provides an opportunity for clients to build on existing skills, develop self-esteem and foster social relationships. It also provides pathways to community volunteering, further education and mainstream employment. In the past 12 months, 19 client volunteers completed 1,881 hours of voluntary work through the program.