With hundreds of jobseekers all applying for the same job and most job seekers having their self-esteem destroyed by receiving zero responses for their efforts, what can someone on Job Seekers Allowance do to improve their chances?

Right near the top of your CV where you listed your last job, there might be one thing missing : Current – VOLUNTEERING for Sustainable Sussex!

Employers love to see people being proactive – or at least active.  And as they say – it’s much easier to get job when you have a job!

Sustainable Sussex is a grass roots project which came about because I was left with chronic pain following spinal surgery.  I also had mental health problems which were made worse by my pain and my lack of engagement with society.  The project made a huge difference and we now have regular volunteer days on Monday, Thursday and Friday and life hasn’t been better.  Yes, I still have pain and need to take regular breaks, but it is all put into perspective by helping others and looking after our environment and our community.

It is so easy to get lost in today’s society, particularly if you are ill or long term unemployed.  There just isn’t a lot of glue holding us all together.  When we feel that we do not have a place in society – when we are told what to do and it does not work, the sanest of people end up with mental health problems.  It has become clear to me that every one of us needs a purpose – a reason for being.  We all can find that thing – our passion or our bliss as Joseph Campbell calls it.  Our projects can help you find that.

Real work experience made a real difference in life for Volunteer Vi.

Experience is key to finding what you really want to do and our projects might  help.  We do everything from running our social enterprise Sussex Chilli Farm to our newest project, creating Sompting Community Farm.  We learn to learn together, to accept each other in our mixed needs groups and how to find and use our personal skills to help each other and we all contribute to creating a great project for our community.  There has been no better personal development for me than that and I get better every day!

So what do we do?  We are currently building a polytunnel with a built in winter chicken coop.  Running Sussex Chilli Farm involves sowing seeds as early as January, growing the plants on, harvesting the chillies and making chilli jam and infused oils.  The highlight of our year is Lewes Chilli Fayre where we get to sell our plants and produce and see the money coming in to support the projects.  We have chickens and will be getting sheep soon, so we will try our hand at dyeing, felting and spinning.  We are also taking on woodwork and engineering projects all of the time, so there is something for everyone.

And then there is the C.V.  Who will an employer contact if they had a choice between someone who volunteers and someone who is simply unemployed?  I know who my choice would be.

Why not get in touch with Keith at Sustainable Sussex – pop down to see what we do and give it a go?

Would a visit be too much?  Why not text or email Liane who runs The Sustainable Mind.  The Sustainable Mind offers mindfulness lessons which can help with anxiety and other mental health problems and boost your confidence.