Before I got involved with ACE, I’d been a teacher for 10 years, and had some time off work due to anxiety. I was in quite a stressful environment where I felt like I was on the hamster wheel, giving and not getting a lot back. I found an advert for volunteering on the Macmillan project with Griefspace, and started volunteering in February. I just found a new niche, something I really liked.
The most significant change is in me and my self confidence. There’s a massive lifestyle change, because now I have a new job here, working two days a week with ACE Cares. When I started volunteering, I didn’t for a second think that I’d be working here. But when I walked in the environment here was full of life; full of positivity. ACE has given me so many opportunities. I’ve been invested in; I did the Youth and Community Course run by Cardiff Met. Now I volunteer for the Samaritans too.
Later, a part-time role came up for Single Parents Wales. I had the confidence to go for that after going for the job here. I was being told constantly by people that I’ve got transferable skills. So I was able to apply for the job and say, I’ll work for you but only for one day a week. Learning to say no, and on my terms, it’s been empowering. I handed in my resignation at my school two weeks ago. Now I have the confidence to know my worth.
There’s a lot of pressure on teachers to validate what we do and get feedback at all times. But here, we look at the positives of what have they got, how can we help them develop that? I like that people have a heart here. You can see that everyone’s here for the right reason. No one’s here for promotion and there’s no one upmanship with each other. It’s just simple. One person helping another is just as it should be. People value each other’s time, effort and ideas and that’s amazing. I’ve not experienced that anywhere else.
Being involved in ACE has broadened my horizons, like, the possibilities of what life can look like. It’s also exposed me to how difficult life can be for people in the community, and how amazing and resilient people are in those periods of adversity. So it’s really humbling for me. It’s given me hope, actually, that’s the most significant change. I have hope now, whereas I didn’t before. Because I see more of a value in myself now. The impact of ACE has rippled through everything in my life.