In 2016, I had to appeal a benefit decision, so I reached out to Advice Space for support to draft a submission to the tribunal. Graham, who is one of our Welfare Reform advisors, encouraged me to volunteer alongside finishing my degree. Eventually, I won my appeal and I applied to volunteer. Advice Space paid for all my training to qualify as an advisor, and I started volunteering a few hours a week from 2017, as I had to pace myself due to my disabilities. As a volunteer, I provided advice on a wide range of issues, such as social security, employment, housing, health, consumer, education and immigration.
Providing high-quality, empathetic advice to the public has become a passion, and I successfully applied for a job at Advice Space in 2020 with reasonable adjustments. Now, I'm part of a dedicated team which provides specialist advice to adults in the Belfast Trust area who have physical disabilities, and their carers. Volunteering with Advice Space changed my career path, has given me a sense of community, and allowed me to test the waters and build my confidence before going back into employment - and we'd love more volunteers to join us.