Hope – Manchester Cathedral Style

25th November 2020

“The Volition programme gave me the motivation, they believed in me. They said I could, and I did,”

Charlene Bebbington, Volition Programme, Manchester Cathedral.

Volition was set up by Manchester Cathedral in 2012 as a simple volunteer programme to make sure the welcomers and volunteers better represented the city they served and built up their skills and confidence.

Eight years on, hundreds of long-term unemployed have benefited from the programme with its unique blend of job club meets volunteering. Now, a national charity, Volition Community works with JobCentre Plus and strategic partners including Manchester city centre retailers, Manchester Arndale, Victoria Warehouse, Procure Plus, Harvey Nichols and Hotel Indigo , to offer the long-term unemployed the skills and confidence they need to gain employment through a ten week course.

And for Charlene Bebbington – it has been a life changer. At 32 years old, Charlene was stuck in a rut. Three kids, overweight, no confidence. It was the supervisor at the Job Centre who suggested she go to the Open Day at Manchester Cathedral and she was immediately inspired by the programme’s mix of college work, volunteering and mock interviews.

The first day was spent helping her write her CV, and she was assigned a welcomer role to help with her self-confidence. The college courses started – brushing up on her Maths and English. There was lots of work on interview techniques and slowly her confidence started to build. When the course finished, Charlene had not secured a job so she continued to volunteer at the Cathedral and joined the team to help promote Volition.

Now she has a job she loves, working in housekeeping and reception at the Premier Inn

Said Charlene:

“My life was in a downward spiral, they gave me back my life, and they gave my kids back their lives too.

“They create hard-working people, they made me want to work, they put me out there; just speaking to people instead of hiding away in front of daytime TV.

“They made me not be afraid to start something new. They encouraged me to get involved in life.

“Volition programme gave me the motivation. They believed in me. They said I could, and I did,” she added.

Antony O’Connor, Manchester Cathedral’s Director of Fundraising and Development and the
Director of the Volition Community said:

“The purpose of Volition is to pick people up. We try to pick them up, give them self-esteem, build up their confidence and make them feel valued.

“The cathedral and the church has always been here to serve the community for hundreds of years. Volition is no different to that but it is done in a more modern, secular context.

“If the church is not here to help the vulnerable and dispossessed, what is it here for? “ he added.

Volition is funded from a mixture of corporate giving and trusts, the course includes team-work, communication skills, confidence building, taster days, health and well-being – including helping with the bee-hives on top of Manchester Cathedral and in the gardens of Salford Cathedral. With a one-day college course, mock interviews, job club and job search facility, all Manchester Cathedral asks of each volunteer is to give half a day a week volunteering at the Cathedral or the Cenotaph.
Since 2012, it has seen over 1,000 people through its programme, and between 40 to 50 per cent have secured work year-on-year.

Visit www.volitioncommunity.org for more information.