My Story by Ian Hitchings

Ian helping at Warndon Library

I started my computing career back in 1998 and I suppose in some ways I may seem an atypical volunteer for a scheme such as the Digital Champions. I certainly wasn’t short on IT skills or ability. So why did I sign up? What was in it for me?

Well, it came down to “personal proof”. The Digital Champion scheme was an opportunity to see if I still had what it took, whether I should return to my previous career after an enforced break that I simply could not avoid.

You see, a series of unfortunate events had taken place in my life. I had to quit work and become a carer for my parents among other things. I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say I wasn’t in a good place and I was beaten up by the end of it.

I arrived telling myself to keep an open mind, to see what I could do to help. I met Tim Marsh, was interviewed at what was at the time Fortis Living and found myself impressed with the scope of the scheme.

Volunteering gave me a healthy escape and also gave me crucial evidence. It helped me prove that I could still be useful. Be worthwhile. Eventually after volunteering in Warndon, Tolladine, St. John’s and The Hive I went back to working in IT for a couple of schools on contract and a year or so passed while I built upon the new foundations I had laid.

Then something unexpected happened. My next opportunity would be working at Fortis Living, now Platform Housing Group. It appears that my interview for the scheme had been remembered. The Service Desk Manager recognised my name and I landed the contract. Then, when that contract finished I was given a shot at a permanent role and now start this year as a fully-fledged member of the IT Service Desk. I’m very much back on track.

It all came from taking a chance and volunteering. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have met Tim Marsh and taken part in this scheme. I didn’t expect to be rewarded for it any more than the feeling I received at the end of a session. That would have been enough, but I ended up benefiting in ways I certainly did not expect.

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