Before relocating to live in the UK with her family, Elena was an English teacher in her home country of Ukraine. It was this passion for teaching that saw Elena determined to resume her career as an English teacher in the UK, but she quickly realised gaps in her knowledge were proving a barrier to gaining employment.

Recognising the need to bridge these gaps and gain work related confidence, Elena started volunteering in London where she taught English and history to visiting eastern European children.

“Volunteering was a great experience. It helped me to learn a wide range of skills as well as giving me the chance to meet and work with all sorts of new people - I gained confidence and developed a real working knowledge of how UK businesses work.”

Elena furthered her development by volunteering with a family, helping them look after their 8 year old autistic son, teaching him a wide range of skills from a personalised programme.

As well as undertaking extensive volunteering, Elena also enrolled in a functional skills course run by Hertfordshire Adult and Family Learning Service (HAFLS). The course was recommended to her by a friend she had met whilst volunteering.

“I was overwhelmed by just how supportive the HAFLS team were. They were really determined to help me reach all my work goals.”

Elena’s tutor, Jess, recommended her for a teaching role, HAFLS were able to identify the skills Elena needed to develop and tailored a volunteering programme specifically for her.

This extra volunteering programme included managing course paperwork and attending classes to observe how they were run which were precisely the skills and types of practical experience Elena was looking for.

“The volunteering with HAFLS allowed me to see first-hand how the courses were delivered and to help make me confident that I could make a success of a career in teaching in the UK.”

So at the end of her volunteering and learning through her HAFLS course – what does the future hold for Elena?

“In two weeks I start my job as an English teacher!”

“I’m excited and I can’t wait to start – I’d recommend volunteering to anyone looking to improve their confidence when they’ve come from overseas, as a way to meet and connect with new people, and learn new and valuable skills.”

“Volunteering helps open doors and learn how a business works – you get to see it all first-hand, whilst feeling that you’re making a really positive contribution.”

To find out more about volunteering opportunities at HAFLS contact 01992 556194 or email hafls@hertfordshire.gov.uk

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