*Hi, I’m Cathy. I’m a champion on the U-turn phase 3 work-readiness programme. My passion is communication and I’m part of the U-turn communication team. Every week I will be writing a blog post sharing my personal experience on this programme, to give you a window into the experience of being a champion on the U-turn programme.

What is a U-turn charity shop you may ask? Well on the U-turn Phase 3 work-readiness programme as champions we’re being prepared for the open-labour market. Sometimes living on the streets for extended periods without meaningful human connection and without a sense of community, can impact on your social skills and make it difficult to integrate later. That makes holding down a job very difficult and reintegration can be so challenging that people sometimes choose to simply return to the streets.

So U-turn charity shops provide a work opportunity with a stipend and on-the-job training, and a  space for champions to grow into independence, accountability and employment. 

When I first started working at the U-turn charity shop, the shop manager asked me what I was able to bring to the store in terms of knowledge and skills. I told her that I love books and that I could rearrange and categorise the books in the shop. 

She allowed me to do that. 

The book sales in the shop skyrocketed. 

I set myself targets for book sales and it was a joy to see books being sold. Whenever a customer had a query about a book, my fellow champions would refer them to me. 

I, on the other hand, would refer customers to fellow champions if they wanted a specific clothing item for a special event because they were very good at that. They were able guide customers as if they were personal stylists to what would suit them.

At U-turn the shop managers and supervisors not only lead us champions, but they walk a journey with us. They allow us to grow in our potential and take ownership of our role in the shop. They mold us like clay to become the vessel God wants us to be, to reach our divine destiny.