James' Story

James, 24, from Rochdale joined the Greater Manchester Talent Match programme in May 2015. During his time on the programme he has taken part in a number of volunteering opportunities that have given him confidence and new skills.

James’ Talent Coach, Janet Whitehead from Upturn Enterprise worked with James to find out what his interests and hobbies were and to encourage some interaction with other young people.

She says, “James was a very quiet young man with no real work experience. He struggled with his social skills due to Aspergers and prior to joining the programme had spent most of his time at home for over 4 years now leading to him becoming quite lonely.”

During their discussions, James expained that he was teaching himself the guitar and has a keen interest in music.

Following this, Janet approached The Vibe in Rochdale about a volunteering position for James. He has now been attending The Vibe for several months and is enjoying it, he even gets guitar lessons and recently played on the stage.

He also became involved with the Greater Manchester Talent Match Youth Panel six months ago, and his confidence in communicating is really improving. This has led to other opportunities including training and taking part in a World of Work visit at the BBC.

James said of his time on the programme so far, “I enjoy my time at The Vibe and the people involved with the Youth Panel are all really nice”.

Natalie Bates, Youth Panel Officer for Greater Manchester Talent Match said, “James is a fantastic member of the Youth Panel. He has been involved in a number of key activities which has led to him feeding back his views and opinions. He recently attended Wolverhampton with members meeting young people from Talent Match Black Country. I am looking forward to James continuing to develop on the Youth Panel”.

James now volunteers at The Vibe two afternoons per week and one evening, which he hopes to increase in the near future. He is having a fabulous time and his confidence in communicating is growing daily. Since joining the Youth Panel James' communication skills have greatly improved along with the motivation and confidence in himself to find employment.

Janet said, “The volunteering is really pushing and challenging James and this in itself has not always been easy for James, he contiues to attend and gain valuable skills an experience. I am proud of him”. 

Sarah Gray, Development Officer for Volunteering & Training at Greater Manchester Talent Match said, “James’ story really shows that volunteering can have many benefits, increasing confidence, making friends and reducing isolation as well as helping him to get ready for work.”.

James hopes that a paid opportunity will arise in the near future, but if not, he has certainly gained valuable skills and experience from the opportunity.