Billie-Jo worked in the hospitality sector with a 20+-year career but following redundancy in 2020 she has been on a mission to find part time work that will fit around her twin girls. Billie-Jo has been finding job searching challenging but is feeling positive with support from the GRoW Programme.
Billie-Jo said “I have always been in work and so found it very hard to get used to the idea of being out of work and on Universal Credit. I had worked at Heathrow Airport for many years but when in July 2020 the company I worked for was taken over, and no airport workers were kept on, I was unfortunately made redundant. It was just after the first lockdown and the pandemic had hit the hospitality sector hard. Working at the airport for so long had meant that I had never needed to look for work before as it was easy to move between jobs at Heathrow. I was in my last job for 20 years and before that I had been scouted for jobs. Interviews were really informal and only lasted a couple of minutes and I never needed a CV.
It felt alien to me to on Universal Credit and in fact after losing my job in July I didn’t actually claim UC until the following March. I had been so busy during that time homeschooling my twin girls who are dyslexic and as both of them are asthmatic we were all shielding. All my family live in Yorkshire and as a single parent I had a lot on my plate, was feeling quite lonely and wasn’t making much progress with regards to finding work. Being on UC and job searching can put you in a dark and daunting place, getting one rejection after another. I was finding that I would apply for certain jobs and take the tests they required but even if I passed the test and got good feedback I still wasn’t getting the job. It was also very inpersonal – most of the time when you are taking the tests you are not even talking to a person, you are talking to a machine! I was feeling very low and it was only when I got a new Work Coach who introduced me to GRoW that things started to change and since then I have never looked back!
I started attending the GRoW Workshops and found them so uplifting and refreshing. The courses really nourish and nurture you so when you come out you feel confident and reassured that you are on the right path. The GRoW advisers really understand the challenges, they don’t judge and you know that they speak from experience, many of them having faced the same difficulties – it really makes a difference because you don’t feel like you are on your own anymore. I went to one of their Summer picnics recently and it was so lovely to be around like minded people who respect you and want to help you. I am so thankful for that as during lockdown it didn’t feel like there was much help out there for people like me and having GRoW really is a lifeline for me, they are always there. Chantelle is my adviser and she is always on hand if I need help, whether it’s a quick question answered by text or an in-depth question I need to go through, I can just give her a call.
I have been applying for jobs, mostly in hospitality, but I have decided that what I really want to do is to get a job as a Teaching Assistant. I have found a Teaching Assistant Level 3 Diploma I want to do and I am currently trying to find a placement in a school which is a condition of the course. I have applied to attend GRoW’s ‘Preparing to Work in Schools’ course next month and I have been going to the GRoW Coffee Mornings too which are a great place to find out information on things like childcare. They have a different speaker every week who always have something different and interesting to offer. I find the whole experience very refreshing and interesting as there is always something new to take away. I have been invited to attend GRoW’s Bootcamp in a Day session which I will be taking up and have also looked into taking a 2 day First Aid Course that will really benefit me if I am looking to work in a school. There is also a Mental Wellbeing course that I am considering doing alongside the Level 3 Diploma.
I really feel since being supported by GRoW that I have a plan now and I know where I want to go and how to get there!”