Neriah, 23, joined Emmaus North Staffs in May 2022, and is a familiar and friendly face in our Emmaus Shop in the Potteries Centre, Hanley.

My mum had heard of Emmaus North Staffs through its previous shop, the Furniture Mine. I hadn’t heard of it, but I looked on the Emmaus North Staffs website and saw that it was quite local.

I’m on Universal Credit and they recommended that I do some volunteering to get some experience. I applied to Emmaus North Staffs through the Samaritans because I was getting a bit of help from them and one of their support workers mentioned it over the phone. They submitted my application to Emmaus North Staffs and then I got a phone call and I went to the Furniture Mine (the charity’s previous warehouse) and talked about the role.

“Helped me with my confidence”

It was my first job and obviously with the pandemic and not going outside that much and interacting with people, it was quite difficult at first. My anxiety was high and it took a little while to get used to it. I started off in the back of the shop sorting out inventory because this was less customer-facing, which helped a lot. I slowly transitioned to being on the till and that has definitely helped me with my confidence and getting used to what the job actually entails.

As well as the till, I help to keep the shop floor clean and put the stock out, pricing up and helping the customers. Before our new manager Tish started, items were not priced individually. Now that we have more staff, everything is labelled individually, which is better as it’s much clearer now, and the layout has changed for the better.

How has volunteering benefited you?

It’s improved my confidence, not just with strangers and talking to them but also through working in a team and solving problems.

It’s helped my anxiety because it’s proven to me that I can do it, because a lot of my anxiety was around things like “what if I make a mistake?” Experience has shown I don’t have to be so anxious around making mistakes – it doesn’t happen often, but it’s not the end of the world if it does, everyone makes mistakes.

What do you hope for the future?

I’d like to continue at Emmaus North Staffs for now because it’s a safer environment to learn work skills and because I’m slowly building up with Universal Credit to get a job, so it’s really preparing me for work. It helps on my CV to see that I have built up some valuable experience.

I’d definitely recommend volunteering to other people. They haven’t just got volunteering roles in the Potteries Centre shop where I work, they’ve got roles sorting stock in the Furniture & Home Charity Warehouse too in Etruria Road.

Working for a charity like Emmaus makes me feel a lot better because it helps people in need. I like that they are helping homeless people because they are a group of people that are often overlooked and not respected, especially in the local area too.

To see the full range of volunteering roles here at Emmaus North Staffs, click here.