Karl’s Story

I’ve lived all over the country and had times when I’ve been homeless. Sometimes you have no choice – and it can lead to depression, anxiety and social phobia.  I’m settled in Bournemouth now but there’s too much sitting doing nothing, so I was spending a lot of time, sometimes up to eight hours a day, on my bike or walking. I regularly cycle across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.  It’s such a beautiful area with so many places to see. I like taking photos and the views are different every day.

It’s all part of me getting my head level before looking for another job. I was feeling isolated and I didn’t know what to do – all the information you need isn’t in the right place at the right time. I talked to my Job Coach and got in touch with CAN. Liz found me a role she thought I’d like and introduced me to Emily, who manages the Tenovus Cancer Care charity shop in Southbourne. Based in Wales, Tenovus Cancer Care provides support and care for people affected by cancer.

I started in November 2022 and I love it!  I’m here mornings and some afternoons. I sort and separate items for sale and recycling.  We are lucky with the donations people give us.  We had a rare 1930’s Dickens novel and I researched the price. We sell more valuable items on our Ebay shop which helps us raise more money. I like talking to people and helping them look for things. Customer satisfaction is really important and at Southbourne there is a strong community element which I love.

For me there’s a set of scales – on one side there’s the past and anything I put on the other side to do some good helps me too. I’m getting relevant experience and showing that I’m able to work with others, not just sitting around on my own. It’s given me a focus. I want to get back into work and would do anything. I’ve done my Level 2 City and Guilds in welding – metal work is my favourite and I’m a portrait fantasy artist.  I’m really into graphic novels especially Warhammer and sci-fi. It would be lovely to do something I’m passionate about.

If my story can help anyone who might be thinking of making a change that really helps to improve their life – volunteering could be the way forward.

Emily Davison, Tenovus Cancer Care’s Southbourne Shop Manager, said: “Having Karl as a volunteer has been amazing. Tenovus Cancer Care welcomes volunteers from all walks of life, and many have had challenging past life experiences. It’s rewarding to see volunteers, such as Karl, increase in confidence and gain vital work experience whilst making a difference to the lives of people affected by cancer. We appreciate every one of our volunteers, and the unique qualities they bring to the role. It’s a mutually beneficial experience.”