Personal Stories

Ellen’s Story

Personal Story – Janette Rigby

Janette Rigby
Janette Rigby

After being in employment for twenty years, I was made redundant. It felt like my whole world had fallen apart. I had been working in a small office with only two other people and it felt frightening to be thrown out into the big wide world. I felt hopeless and useless, as if I had nothing to give and nowhere to go. I got into a rut where I stayed in bed all day and didn’t wish to get up. I felt that the only thing I was good enough for was household chores.

One morning, I decided that I did have something to give, and that I wished to belong somewhere, to give something back and to stop feeling sorry for myself. I decided to ask Intact about voluntary work because it was the only place that I knew which offered it. When I arrived I sat outside for twenty minutes before I had the courage to come inside, as I feared another rejection.

I don’t know what I would have done if Intact had not taken me on as a volunteer. I might have become a recluse. When I entered the building, it was a lovely place. The positive attitude of Jo, the volunteer on duty, and Deb, the Centre Support & Advice Officer was inspiring. The service users are motivating too, and I have learnt so much from them in 12 months. I was particularly inspired by the way they are cheerful and never give up, and I have seen them at my college taking courses too.

Aside from volunteering on the front desk, I have learnt about computers on the UK Online course. I am also playing an active role in the running of the Peer Talk sessions. There are always free courses and talks to attend, so there is plenty for Intact to offer me when I finish my college course. My family have supported me so I have not needed to seek work, but when I am ready to do this I can use the Work Club.

I have also joined in with events such as the promise auction and attending meetings. At one time, I would not even go the shops on my own, but now I have the confidence to go out more, and this happened in just a matter of weeks. One moment that stands out for me is joining in with a roleplay session at the Volunteer Christmas party, something I could never have participated in before.

I have also enrolled at Preston College, where I am now in my second year of a degree in counselling. My work on the course and in counselling placements has meant putting myself out in front of others. The most surprising thing about volunteering at Intact is how little I feel pressurised. I previously had a management job which involved a lot of pressure, and I am reticent about myself when I do my counselling work. The friendly and open environment at Intact allows me to feel calm and be myself.

Both the staff and the volunteers at Intact have been very supportive. I came to the realisation that a lot of people can come here and talk, even if they do not know anybody. People are helpful and they help others. I feel more confident asking for support, as I know that I can ask staff anything, and they will advise me or point me in the right direction.

I do not feel useless anymore. I now feel that I have a sense of purpose –something to get up for, and something to do. I am proud that I have done this by pushing myself. Intact helped to give me the confidence to do other things and put myself out there. I can deal with rejection better – if someone says no, I will look for something else.

In my personal life, I now have the assertiveness to say no to family, friends and peers, and not be there for everyone. I no longer have the same desire to feel needed. If I was having a bad time or needed support, I know that there would be someone at Intact to support me. Before I would have withdrawn from others, and gone with the flow, feeling that my opinions did not count. Now I am more open-minded in myself and towards others.

I love being at Intact. Coming here is the best thing I have ever done. If Intact was not here, I now believe that I would not have the confidence to get myself out there and do things for myself. However, I dread to think where I would be or what I would have done if Intact had not given me a position at that point. It gave me the lift that I needed at that time.