Ant joined the Furniture Project in February 2017 as a volunteer and with the support of Genesis Trust was eventually chosen for the Pret Foundation Rising Stars programme. His story really demonstrates the benefits of getting involved with our Projects, and the role they play in providing opportunities for community engagement and self development.
Ant was referred to the Furniture Project by Tomorrow’s People, after struggling to find work and feeling unsupported by those around him. He volunteered each week for 2/3 days collecting furniture with the vans. “It was good fun, I felt part of the team and everyone was so welcoming” he said, “I could talk to someone, felt supported and was around friendly people”.
Despite leaving school with GCSE’s in Maths, English, IT and Science, Ant had not been able to find employment, and as a victim of childhood bullying was increasingly experiencing feelings of isolation and low self-worth. He says the Furniture Project really helped him and played a huge role in helping him move forward in his life; “volunteering at the Furniture Project really helped to build my confidence, I was treated like an adult and given respect”.
Anthony Ward, Furniture Project Manager says he saw a real change in Ant when he joined the team; “as he progressed through the early months working with us he began to open up. He started to smile and share a joke. His overall demeanor improved and he became a real asset to the Furniture Project”.
In September, Ant was chosen as a candidate on the Pret Foundation Trust Rising Star Programme, launched in 2008 and offering 3-month apprenticeship placements to people unable to find work for a variety of reasons. Ant is now in full swing of his programme and once complete he has the chance of being offered a full time job.
In between working hard in his new role, Ant still drops in to the Furniture Project to visit Anthony Ward and the other staff and volunteers; “we all have a cup of tea together, he updates us on his progress and he keeps in contact with the friends he has made here… he now has a big smile on his face!”.