Pam had been out of work for 4 years since being made redundant from her management role. She has been caring full time for her children, two with disabilities and was keen to get back to work if the right position with the right hours were available and with GRoW’s support Pam has just secured a local job as a Playworker.
Pam said ”I found about GRoW through my son’s school and straight away it sounded like something that would be of interest to me. At the time I was at caring for my children who have disabilities full time and I really needed to find something for myself. Before I had my youngest son, who is now 3, I had been working as a Retail Showroom Customer Services Manager leading a team of 7 people, but I was made redundant when I was expecting. I had always planned to go back to work when my son started nursery but when he started showing signs of autism, which I recognised as my eldest son is also autistic, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to work as soon as I wanted to and that I would also need to look for a different type of job role. My previous job had often meant working long hours and being away from home and I knew I needed to work towards finding something different that would fit in with my family.
GRoW came along at the right time for me as I was feeling a bit lost and really needed some support. It was great to be put in contact with people who could not only help me find a sense of direction but they were also so helpful and understanding. GRoW run their own SEN group for parents of children with autism and it was really nice to have that connection with parents who are going through similar experiences to myself and be able to talk things through.
When it came to thinking about the kind of job I could do, one of the main challenges I was facing was the fact that each of my children attend different schools at different times of the day. One finishes early on a Friday and my youngest only does mornings. Even a part time job is a struggle to fit around these times and I was really not sure what, if any, job I would be able to do. The first thing my adviser Saeema did was introduce me to the Coffee Mornings and some of the online training workshops I could do. The Coffee Morning really helped me understand what help was available. I then did the GRoW Your Own Business (GYOB) programme with Mercedes which revived my interest in pursuing an idea I have had for a while to make the most of my creative skills by setting up a clothing business. My idea is only in the early stages but is something I really want to concentrate on over the next year and when I have more time to commit to it I really think it could be a good opportunity for me in the future.
After GYOB I attended Sonia’s CV Workshop and after Sonia worked her magic on my CV I really felt I was in a much better position to go out and look for a job again.
The job is with HACS, children between 7 and 24 with autism to help them develop new skills I can do something creative with them, drama classes, sports and it is local to where I live. It is a great job for me to progress in the future if I do want to go into that field and use th eskils myself going forward with my own children. That’s why I’m excited about starting the job. I look at the grow app quite often and it was advertised on there, they had a careers day, jobs fair on the app Hillingdon Autism Charity. It helps people with autism awareness and help people and children with autism to have an independent life and gain skills.
I frequently look at the GRoW app as there’s so much useful information on there and I found out that there was a jobs fair coming up. I went along to it and learned out about a job vacancy at HACS (Hillingdon Autistic Care and Support) for an Autism Adviser role. It sounded really interesting but the hours were not suitable for me however when I enquired I found they also had a Play Leader role available which suited me completely. It sounded like it would be really fun and creative and I knew I could learn a lot from it. Saeema gave me some pointers to help me with the application form and personal profile and I applied.
When I learned I had an interview with HACS I did an Interview Workshop one to one over Zoom with Sonia which really helped me. We read through the job description together and she helped me with interview questions, talking about the job role, possible questions that might come up and how to answer them. It really built up my confidence and motivation.
When I had the interview with them so many of the questions I had already run through with Sonia came up and the interview went really well. I was offered the job and was over the moon. The job involves me working with children with autism, between the ages of 7 and 24, to help them develop new skills and live more independently. I am really looking forward to being creative, running things like drama classes and sports activities and am excited about the future now. I know that having a job role like this will open up doors for other roles so if I decide I want to train to be an Autism Adviser then this would have been a fantastic stepping stone.
The job is really local to me which is great and the hours suit me too. I will be working 2 sessions a week with young adults and doing the after school club which means 3-3.5 hours twice a week and the occasional Saturday. I can pick and choose the hours I want to do which then gives me time to think about the business I would like to set up. I really feel that so many more opportunities have opened up for me now and I am so looking forward to the new experiences.”