I started volunteering at my mosque in 2004 because I wanted to give back to the community. I did lots of different things, from office work, working in the kitchen, cleaning work, and security work.
The best thing about volunteering was getting the chance to meet new people, getting to bond and build new friendships. I was really happy, it made me feel strong and active.
I first came in contact with Mencap 3 years ago, I was referred by the job centre to their employment programme to help me find a job. I started going to a weekly job club, we worked on job searching skills, completing applications, applying for jobs and preparing for interviews.
I wanted to get into paid work instead of more volunteering because I wanted a more independent life. I wanted to be able to earn money so I could get married and have a family.
I’d never got very far with my applications before because I was not very good on a computer, with application forms, and with interview situations.
I trained with Mencap and they helped me learn new skills for paid work - Job club was great and I also went on security and catering courses.
I started applying for jobs in retails, supermarkets, and lots of other places.Actually though, working at the mosque was my dream job, because I have been going there since I was a child. Also, I am religious, and this fits in well with my beliefs.
To get my paid job at the mosque I worked very hard, I even increased my volunteering hours to prove to them I would make a good worker.
Eventually I was offered a job at the mosque. Mencap helped me build my confidence enough to speak to my employer and negotiate my pay.
Mencap also supported me at work to help understand some of the tasks. My family congratulated me when I got the job and are very happy for me. I know Mencap are still there for me, and can help me to speak to my employer if I have any problems.
They are also helping me look for another job to top up my income!