If you’d asked me would you find yourself working in a tea shop, I’d have said “No!”
Before I started working here I had really low confidence and had convinced myself I wasn’t good at things, like talking to people. Although I have had retail experience previously, I hadn’t really had much customer interaction. I was kind of quiet and kept myself to myself, it’s hard to say why – I’m quite dubious on how people take me. I’m my own worst enemy for that, straight away I put it in my head that I’m not going to get on with other people – but working here has definitely proven me wrong!
I originally got involved with LTR during the Big Community Build. I worked alongside some local tradesmen who gave their time for free. They were great guys and really boosted my confidence, by teaching me new skills. It was all things I hadn’t done before, putting up plasterboard, grouting, running data cable – it really made me happy to do it. While helping during the build, I just fell in love with the place. I think it was because of mixing with the people, doing the build, seeing it coming together – I decided I wanted to spend more time down here – and volunteering was the best way of doing that.
I first volunteered in the kitchen, like I say, I wasn’t so confident then. I didn’t want to go further than the kitchen because I didn’t want to have contact with people, but as my confidence grew I came out of the kitchen and trained as a wait staff and then as a barista.
Now I’m General Assistant and others look to me to learn how to do things!
I came in one Friday, Kerry-Anne and Owen called me to the office and I had a hot collar moment thinking I was in trouble. They said, “You’re not in trouble, in fact someone wants to sponsor you for one day a week,” and I nearly dropped to the floor – someone wants to fund me! They’ve seen me working here and they want to support that?!
Then a couple of months later I was called into the office again and said they were stepping out in faith and wanted to employ me for two days a week!
I thought: can this get any better?!
I still volunteer here, but having two days a week paid has lifted such a weight from my shoulders. I’ve grown so much here and have gained new skills – now I can apply for other jobs that I’d never have thought of before.
Being employed by the tea rooms is my favourite thing. I’d love to stay here if I could. I’m so comfortable here, everything is second nature to me. Whatever role I am – barista, wait staff, or back to my roots in the kitchen – it doesn’t phase me, I can do anything.
My confidence is great now – there’s nothing stopping me.
Working here you can’t not talk to the guests. They’re always asking you what is this place about, what’s it in aid of, and I just love taking the time to tell them all about it!
In comparison to where I was before, I’m a lot happier now. I literally say to people, “I’m going to work, but I love going to work!” I don’t wake up and think oh no its another day, I get in to work and think “Yes I’m in – let’s have another good day!”
Like I say, I don’t let anything stop me now – anything that needs to be done I’ll fulfil it to the best of my knowledge, and if I don’t know what I’m doing I’ll ask.
I keep thinking of my original plan of just staying in the kitchen and going no further, but that’s gone completely out the window that one. Haha!