Up until her early 60s, D worked full-time: first in the medical industry, then in retail. Just before her 64th birthday, D lost her job as the store she worked at was sold, and she found herself unemployed for the first time in her life.
While D was almost at retirement age, she was not ready to stop working and approached Centrelink for financial support while she looked for work. D was told she needed to work a certain number of hours a week to receive the JobSeeker payment (at the time this was the Newstart payment).
D started actively looking for work opportunities, but because of her age, it was difficult to secure employment. D found the process of applying for jobs and being rejected by prospective employers very intimidating.
“Why would they hire me, when they can hire a 20-year-old?”
Based on her experience, D observed that for people without a car or resources it can be very challenging to find work and deal with constant rejection.
After about a month, D informed Centrelink that she would rather volunteer for an organisation that did good work in the community. Centrelink were supportive of this, advising her that she needed to volunteer for the equivalent of at least two days a week.
D approached her local Vinnies shop as she “was bored and looking for a way to help,” and she had seen first-hand how Vinnies had helped people in her community. She was immediately asked by the manager when she would like to start. D volunteered for 1.5 years at the Vinnies shop, meeting her Centrelink obligations until she was eligible for the Age Pension. D loved the experience of volunteering at Vinnies so much that she stayed on. She has continued volunteering 2 days a week over the last 7 years.
Volunteering with Vinnies has impacted D’s life positively in many ways. The team she has worked with has been supportive, offering training and friendship. Volunteering has enabled her to meet people and be involved in her community again, and she enjoys being able to support others and offer help to those who may be struggling. For D, there has been a sense of purpose and meaning in her volunteering, and an opportunity to help others. She says
“this is what people need, a stretched-out hand, offering to help”