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 a Shift Leader 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 they called me 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!
We have seen Paul grow from strength to strength, he's a true leader - he leads by serving. Paul is an encouragement to new volunteers, who often come through our doors looking for a safe place to grow their confidence, and holds tremendous respect from the whole team. He is testament to how we are seeing people's lives change before our eyes - it's amazing. We love you Paul & we'd love you to stay!