“ I am eighteen years old. I’ve been a volunteer at Arts Factory for the last eight months. Before I came here I had been sitting around the house for about four months and before that I was at school. School wasn’t a good experience for me. The teachers didn’t explain much to me and I didn’t get along with some of them. In the end I had to leave. It was a relief in a weird way. At Arts Factory I do a bit of everything - whatever’s needed really. I work on the Factory Books project, listing books and handing sales. I also work on reception and I help with the cleaning, we all take turns with that. I love it here. I love the people I work with and the feeling that this is a job I can do. I have learned a lot too – how to work as part of a team and how to use spreadsheets. In the future I would like to get a job in IT.”
“I’m thirty eight years old. I help at Arts Factory five days a week. I help with the books. I have learned to use a computer and how to be part of a team. Before I came to Arts Factory I spent my time in a day centre for people with learning difficulties. I didn’t like it at all, there was a lot of teasing. At Arts Factory I don’t get teased and if I want to say something in a meeting people listen to me. The people here are great and I have made a lot of friends. I love meeting new people so I enjoy it when there are new volunteers. A girl has just started who lives by me in Maerdy. Sometimes we have parties or Bar-B-Qs and I really enjoy that. The only thing I would change is I would like people to be a bit tidier!”
“I am forty three years old now. I haven’t any big ambitions. I enjoy my life. I have been coming to Arts Factory for years but before that I had to go to a day centre. These days I help with the books project and I also help with the cleaning and trying to keep the place tidy. I went to a class here to learn to use the internet. The best thing about Arts Factory is the people you meet. I have made some good friends. We have been to see Wales play football together. The worst bit is when we have to unload the van in the cold!”
“I am forty four years old. When I was younger I had a bad accident that put me in a wheelchair and left me unable to speak. I have been coming to Arts Factory for over ten years now. My support worker Jerry comes with me. I stamp books with an ink stamp to show that they have come from Factory Books. The main reason I come is for the company. I have a lot of good friends here and they are always happy to see me. That makes me more confident about myself. If Arts Factory wasn’t here I would be stuck in the house. I would probably wish I was dead.”
“I’m in my late thirties. I spent fourteen years working as a printer and then my back went. I had damaged the discs in my spine and I was out of work. I already had a speech impediment and by then my confidence was really low. I went to the job centre looking for light work and I was so nervous I could hardly get a word out – so they sent me to Remploy! It would have been a comedy but it was actually my life. Luckily someone at Remploy realised it was just a stammer, not a learning disability, and they suggested I find out about volunteering at Arts Factory instead. My self confidence has returned and my stammer is no where near as bad as it was. I’ve decided that I would like persue a career as a professional support worker. I don’t think Arts Factory always gets the support it deserves – from the local community or from funders. There is no-one else around here doing this work. People need it and we need to keep it going.”
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