Volunteering really can help to turn a person's life around, according to a Frome woman who is now deputy manager of the shop where she first started helping out.
In advance of national Make A Difference Day later this month, which is designed to encourage volunteering, Nicola Mattin hopes her story will encourage others to lend their support to good causes.
The 32-year-old had been unemployed and lacking in self-confidence until she started volunteering at the Barnardo's shop in the town's Kingsway Precinct.
Over time she gained new skills and eventually used the experience to secure a part-time job with another charity.
Then, earlier this year, she saw a full-time vacancy back at Barnardo's, where she now helps other volunteers to achieve their potential.
Nicola said: "I'd been off work for a really long time so I hoped that helping in a charity shop might get me back into employment.
"At first I was really nervous and lacking in confidence, and didn't want to go anywhere near the till, but everyone was incredibly supportive.
"By the following year I felt strong enough to apply for a part-time job as a sales assistant in another charity shop, but then I jumped at the chance when I saw Barnardo's advertising for a full-time deputy manager.
"Looking back, I can't believe I'm the same person – it's amazing.
"I'm now much more confident in my own abilities and I've regained a sense of self-worth by knowing that I'm giving something back to the local community.
"I can honestly say I look forward to coming to work in the mornings."
Barnardo's shop manager Judith Loughlin said it was wonderful to watch Nicola's transformation.
She said: "It's been wonderful to watch Nicola transform and how she's achieved so much.
"Volunteering is a great way to get back into the world of work, learning new skills and getting used to regular hours.
"Many of our team have gone on to paid employment in the retail sector, becoming sales assistants or even area managers.
"Younger volunteers also benefit as they develop their social skills and learn how to interact with adults in a work environment.
"However, they're not only helping themselves – their time here also helps some of the UK's most vulnerable and disadvantaged children."
For more information on volunteering at Barnardo's, ring 01373 463513.
Make a Difference Day is on Saturday, October 27.