Kelly said “I had worked as a Nursery Nurse previously and have a Childcare Certificate. I was keen to get back to work after having my children and was signed up with the Job Centre for 8 years. Despite attending job fairs and going on courses though I just couldn’t find the right work as I was either overqualified for the jobs they were sending me for or I didn’t fit the criteria for their specialist programmes.
“I went to the GRoW Programme around 9 months ago as they were running a session for parents with children who are on the autistic spectrum called “I want to work and my child has ASD” and it was a great experience. You can feel quite lonely, especially as a single mum, when you have a child with autism. I can sometimes feel I am judged by other people when I’m out and about with my son and that people just don’t understand the challenges parents like myself face everyday. With both my children at school I was starting to feel a little depressed and even though I wanted to work, I was concerned about how I could find a suitable position with the need to attend frequent medical appointments.
“The GRoW Programme’s ASD session really helped me. The session was held at Hillingdon’s Botwell Green Library and it was a group session where I could meet other mums like me. It was so good to just be able to relax around other people who were going through the same experiences as I was.
“During my time with GRoW I met up with Liz Sewell regularly for a coffee and we worked on my CV, sending it out to a few positions that looked interesting. I downloaded a jobs app and rang up the positions that were advertising childcare related jobs that were within 30 minutes of my home. I spoke to them and sent my cv direct, explaining that I wanted part-time work in term time only. Eventually I managed to get two interviews, my first interviews in seven years! I liked one position more than the other and fortunately they offered me the job. My manager has a nephew with autism so he had a good understanding of the challenges I face which made me feel more secure and the working hours fit perfectly around my children. The position they had advertised was for lunch cover, term time only from 11.00am-2.00pn each day but they gave me an extra hour each day and also offered me a higher hourly rate.
“I started on 12th September and I’m settling in really well. So many things have changed since I started work in 1998 and I’m not so confident with computers but I have already done some training, some of which is computer-based. Everyday is different and I’m booked to do a First Aid Course later this month which I’m looking forward to. I’m hoping that once my probationary period is over that I can apply to undertake more courses, especially around ASD and work towards gaining a qualification in that area.
“Liz still emails me regularly to catch up with how things are going. She’s been really helpful in giving me advice around Universal Credit and in ways to approach my employer when I broke my toe just before I was due to start work! I am so grateful for her support and the confidence I have gained from our positive chats has given me a boost to “go out & get them” so to speak. I’m really enjoying being back at work and there’s lots of flexibility and opportunities for career progression in the future.”