Tiggy’s volunteering story
After leaving their job in hospitality due to the pandemic, Tiggy Socci decided to volunteer with Humankind's LGBT+ support service. They now work full-time as an LGBT+ Support Coordinator.
Name: Tiggy Socci
Started volunteering with Humankind: 2021
Volunteer role: Peer Support Facilitator
Full-time role: LGBT+ Support Coordinator
How did you first hear about Humankind? What made you want to start volunteering with us?
It was deep in the middle of the pandemic. I worked in hospitality and felt like that wasn’t the right area for me anymore because everything was closed.
I started looking into what I wanted to do with my life and every employability and skills quiz I took was saying that I ought to work in a caring profession where I’m supporting people. “So how do I do that?” I thought.
I began searching for work experience in a general caring or supportive role and stumbled on information about LGBT+ support; something that is close to my heart and always has been, but I didn’t even know Humankind or that type of service existed before.
What was your volunteer role and what skills did you gain as a volunteer?
I was supporting with the facilitation of the peer support groups and some outreach. I was attending freshers’ fairs and colleges to let people know about the service.
I was using the soft skills I already had from hospitality, like constantly communicating with people. There were always different shows on in the theatre I worked in, which always attracted different audiences with people from different backgrounds. It helped already knowing how to adjust how you speak depending on who’s there, being friendly and welcoming.
The main thing I gained was getting to know the young people, having that opportunity to be there for them, knowing the service was a place where I felt comfortable, and learning about how Humankind works as a company.
When did you start working full-time at Humankind? How did that come about?
In January 2022. My supervisor was going on maternity leave and let me know about the new job roles that were coming up to cover her. The first time she told me about it, I thought “No, I don’t know enough. I can’t do that.” I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself, so I passed on it the first time.
Then, it came back around and my supervisor said, “I really think you can do this. You should go for this.” I was like, “OK, if you’re saying I should go for it, maybe I will.” Then I got the job!
How did you find transitioning from your volunteer role to full-time?
It felt like a huge step up. My background from my previous job was a completely different way of working. I would turn up, be told what to do, then crack on, go home, and not think about it again. Now, I’m managing my own calendar for the first time, arranging appointments with people, and being responsible for ensuring everything gets done. There’s no manager sitting behind me saying, “You need to do this next.”
The nature of this role – any supporting role – means some things are really heavy. You do end up thinking about it after 5pm. But that’s got a lot easier. Now I’m more settled into the role, I’m much more able to switch off after work.
Were your supervisors supportive in that process?
One of my managers had specific experience with my role, so she was great for advice. If I had a particularly difficult meeting, I’d call her to have a rant about it or decompress. That was really useful, especially when everything affects you a bit more because it’s all new.
I feel like everyone’s got each other’s backs and if there’s ever anything I’m unsure about, I know I’ve got more than one person that I can call upon.
What does a typical day look like for you now?
It really varies. I don’t know if there is a typical day. My role involves five or six one-to-one meetings a week with young people. That hands-on work is the bit that gives you the most fulfilment – you feel like you’re genuinely helping people.
Then there’s the admin time where you write everything up, and some time travelling from one place to place, which both take up more time than I anticipated.
I enjoy the peer groups; they have been brilliant. I love the opportunity to spend time with some brilliant young people who are absolutely hilarious and give you life.
We organise trips and days out, which are great fun. One young person who was quite new to the groups attended and she’d never come out of her shell before. She’d attended one group, but sat quietly in a corner. Then we got to watch her come into her own, get really excited about the activities, and chat to everyone. It was gorgeous.
We had an activity day over in South Shields, which we didn’t do any organising for. It was all organised and led by the young people who’ve been with the service for longer and they did such a good job. They were a group aged 18-15 organising for others aged 11-15. It was beautiful to see the older ones supporting the younger ones.
It’s so fulfilling anytime that you hear that something you’ve done has actually helped someone. It makes you feel like you’re doing a good job. Like I’m doing something worthwhile.
I enjoyed hospitality work, but it can feel a bit meaningless. It’s not changing people’s lives. Any time a young person mentions they’ve thought about something I’ve said and been able to apply it, that they’re feeling better or less alone, it’s wonderful. It’s rewarding to have a direct impact that’s so visible.
What do you hope to achieve in the future of your role or beyond?
It’s only been a few months so it’s still all quite new! I want to get even more confident and keep gaining knowledge.
What advice would you give to someone that’s considering volunteering at Humankind?
Go for it! If it’s an area you are considering working in, or something that you care about, then it’s a great space to be able to make a difference.
That’s what I would have told myself if I knew. The second time the job came up, the deadline was my birthday, so that gave me a bit more of a push. It was like the universe saying, “Come on, this is for you. Look at the day.”