Jesse is a 19 year old student at Newman University. She applied to complete her placement as part of her course at RMC but was anxious if she would be able to due to her having a visual impairment that impacts her day to day. Not only did she complete her 100 hour placement, but she broke down barriers for herself and others along the way.
RMC prides itself on being inclusive and diverse. We always want to be open to everyone but we are also aware that nowhere is perfect. When Jesse came to speak about her placement opportunity, we discovered that adjustments would be needed to make the placement safe and successful. Claire, RMC’s volunteer manager, worked with Jesse on what would need to be done and put the plan into action ahead of her induction.
Jesse thought that being visually impaired, she would not be able to complete certain tasks or take part in all the activities on site, this made her anxious, however, once measures were put in place to enable Jesse to get around the office she felt welcomed and special.Jenny, RMC employment coach and Jesse’s mentor during her placement
During her orientation, she provided vital feedback to Claire about how we could make the environment even more inclusive for herself and others. This process has changed the way we look at the environment around the office and allowed RMC to remove barriers to future clients, staff or volunteers. She was only just through the door, but Jesse was already having a positive impact.
The power of mentoring
One of the key people in Jesse’s placement was her mentor Jenny. Every volunteer at RMC is assigned a staff member who will support them to settle into the team and help them develop. The two of them met during Jesse’s induction and Jenny embraced the role fully and showed the difference a warm welcome and strong support can make.
They worked well together and Jenny made sure that Jesse became involved in as many tasks as possible each time she was in the office. By the end of her placement, Jesse had become far more confident in herself and her abilities and this change really shone through.Claire, RMC Volunteer & Training Manager
Jesse was given the chance to get involved in mental health workshops, English classes, writing good news stories, providing employment support and more.
In Jesse’s own words: “At the start, I did not think I would be doing all these activities, because I imagined my anxiety or eyesight holding me back, but I was proven wrong. I enjoyed doing the mental health sessions, getting to speak to a client and use some techniques and asking questions I had learnt from my university course, I got to understand every client is an individual who may go through similar scenarios to another, but the journey they go on to get to the end or the point they are currently at, is always unique. I also got to write up too many good news stories to count, but thoroughly enjoyed it, as I became aware and learnt about the different people, what they went through, how they progressed, and what their future plans were.”
Jenny worked to instil a simple motto into Jesse. I can do it. And Jesse embraced this idea and took to every opportunity she was given. Anytime she was faced with a barrier, she was supported to knock it down. Not just for herself, but for the clients she was supporting. She was able to use the knowledge she had learned in order to help others, to also build herself, develop and grow.
Reflecting on understanding different barriers clients may face upon, I got to break down my own barriers and find ways which helped me improve. RMC have made me feel comfortable, from putting in place accommodations to help me get around with my eyesight to exposing me to different situations where I could get over some of my anxiety, resulting in me feeling a lot more confident with how I am now.Jesse
Jesse is hoping to become a PWP, (Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner) following her university course. She is already in her second year of her Counselling, Mental Health & Wellbeing and from everything she has shown during her time at RMC, she has a bright future ahead!
For Jenny, it was the first volunteer she had mentored and found she gained a lot from the experience. Not only did she get to pass on skills and support Jesse, but she had an opportunity to develop her own new skills. She is already waiting for her next volunteer she will get mentor!
“I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to do my placement here and would recommend it to anyone wanting to work with and help support refugees and migrants with employment, health and much more.” – Jesse