Oliver & Learn Helps Shaw Trust Clients Get Back into Work | OLIVER

If you saw our blog last week, you’ll have read that 15 OLIVER Group staff were preparing for a Giving Back Day in support the Shaw Trust, a charity which helps get people from all walks of life back into work.

Amongst the intrepid 15 were Amanda McKenna, who was kind enough to provide this write-up…

Meet & Greet


All expectations were exceeded within the first hour – everyone arrived on time! We formed pairs and an orderly English queue and walked over to the Shaw Trust in Dalston.

Commence: OLIVER Giving Back Day!

At the Shaw Trust we welcomed 19 job seekers of varying ages and levels of experience. Introductions were given by Talent Director Paul Bonnette, Talent Advisor James McDonnell, and Sharon Whale, CEO for OLIVER UK. Sharon gave quite an insight into her journey to OLIVER CEO, which was inspiring for all and set the tone for the day.

We then paired up with Shaw Trust clients and set about getting to know them, and understanding what career sector they wanted to work in and suited them. Everyone had a really different story.

Some people were highly qualified, but had long gaps in their employment history; some lacked confidence, having been knocked back time and again; some had disabilities which made it hard to hold down a job; and others simply lacked experience and were just looking for someone to give them a chance.

Down to Work

Luke Sprague, Account Director at Aylesworth Fleming, worked with a Shaw Trust client by the name of Muhammed.


“We started out by sitting down and drawing a graph: the X axis being Muhammed’s future, and the Y axis representing happiness on a scale of + 1 to – 1. I asked him to plot how he wanted his life to be on this graph.

Muhammed drew a straight line across the graph at –1. “I’d rather not experience the highs,” he said, “because if I lose them then I’ll become depressed.”

With a maths degree, a previous position as a teaching assistant, plenty of volunteer experience and BTECs in Security and Hospitality, Muhammed appeared, on paper, to be a very employable candidate. However, through his life experience and circumstances Muhammed had developed a shyness, low self-esteem and apathy that he admitted was holding him back.

We spent the next hour rewriting his CV, replacing the “duties” section with examples of how he’d used his skills and qualifications to generate results, as well as elaborating on his personal interests and hobbies – including a passion for all things Manga.

Once finished, Muhammad remarked, smiling, that he never realised he’d achieved so much.”

The Job Fair

Before setting off, Luke and the other OLIVER volunteers worked together to create a pitch to deliver to his prospective employers.

“We covered who he was, what he wanted, and how he was qualified to do it, as well as a call to action for the employer.

Pitch learnt and CVs in hand, we made our way to the job fair.”

The job fair itself was held in a school hall, where around 15 businesses were looking to fill roles in care, security and retail.

“Muhammed stormed ahead, and once I’d made it into the fair I found him deep in conversation with a potential employer and handing over his CV.

This happened again and again until he’d run out of employers to talk to.”

Unexpected Benefits

After the job fair, the Shaw Trust said that the benefit of the OLIVER group was that we had mixed backgrounds ourselves, and that this enabled the clients to relate and open up to us, allowing us to help them.

DARE’s Experience Planner Naomi Desalegene, who also volunteered on the day, had this to say.


“I’ve got involved with other charities before, but this was my first time volunteering with older people than myself, so I was worried that people who’d already been through and come out of work wouldn’t consider my advice to be helpful.

But volunteering with the Shaw Trust turned out to be a great experience. It was little things that those of us in steady employment take for granted, such as writing a good CV or preparing for an interview, that Shaw Trust clients found most useful.

But I also found that just being someone to listen or practice interviews with gave Shaw Trust clients a boost of confidence. We all need that sometimes.”

Bringing People Together

As far as OLIVER was concerned, the day provided a really great opportunity to meet and mix with other people across OLIVER, Dare, Adjust Your Set and Aylesworth Fleming – something which isn’t always easy when you work across a fast-growing business.

Personally, I thought it was a wonderful experience: somewhat challenging, but great to be able to get involved, step out of my own little bubble and spend some time giving back. It really put things in perspective.

Finally, big thank you to OLIVER Talent Advisor James McDonnell for organising the whole thing, and to Volunteering Matters for connecting OLIVER to the Shaw Trust.


To find out more about OLIVER’s charitable efforts, visit the website of our company charity Oliver & Learn.

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