Amelia came to GRoW in September 2021 when her son started Reception and she wanted help to get back to work after a four year break. Amelia came to the GRoW Job Shop, applied for a job at Boots and was offered the position just 10 days later.
Amelia said “Before I had my son I had been working as an office administrator in the same company for 17 years but whilst I was on maternity leave I was offered and took redundancy after the company went through restructuring. I had always been in work, even returning to work when my eldest child was 9 months old, and so it was nice to be able to have some time off to spend time with my family and nurture my young son. When he started school in September however I was ready to get back to work again and fancied a new challenge and to do something different from office work.
I found out about Belina GRoW through my son’s school, they had advertised in May and I hung on to the advert with the intention of getting in touch in September when my son was due to start full time school. I visited their getreadyforwork.org website, got in touch and Kaneez contacted me the next day to tell me about the GRoW Programme and all the activities and services they had to offer. Straight away she signed me up to the Preparing to Work in Schools programme which was really interesting and also the GRoW Bootcamp which I enjoyed a lot. Meeting other mums in the same position as me, listening to their stories and what they are going through was so good. I didn’t think it would be possible to have that level of interaction over Zoom but it really opened my eyes and helped me see I was not on my own, there are many people out there like me, going through the same experiences. The sessions really helped me think things through in my head in terms of what I want to do in the future, where I want to be a few months and a few years down the line and think about the goalposts.
I went to the Job Shop one week with Sonia and that is what led to me getting the job with Boots. I wasn’t sure what to expect at the Job Shop but Sonia was so helpful. She asked me about my work history, what type of job I would be open to and what I was definitely not interested in. She asked me about my skills and what I might be good at and what experience I have had. I explained that I eventually want to go back to office work but at the moment I was fairly open to trying anything. We went through the Kingston GRoW Newsletter and Jobs Bulletin, which I read every week, and the first job advertised was for a position at Boots The Chemist which I thought could be a good start as I had some retail experience from when I was at school and college years ago.
What was fantastic about the Job Shop was the fact that Sonia was there alongside me all the time, offering guidance. The advert on the Jobs Bulletin took me through to the Boots website with the job description and an online application form. It took me 15-20 minutes to complete the application form and when I came across questions I didn’t really understand Sonia was there to help me, suggesting ways for me to answer and encouraging me to go on. It made it really easy to do having someone alongside you giving you pointers and helping you understand the skills you have and how to promote them in the right way. I think if I hadn’t applied for the job during the Job Shop I would have struggled quite a bit and possibly have given up.
The Boots job was the first job I applied for and I was really surprised when 10 days later I received a telephone call while I was out shopping – it was Boots asking if they could do a telephone interview with me! I found a quiet corner and they actually did the interview over the phone with me and then asked me to come in an hour later for a face-to-face interview. I quickly dropped off my shopping, changed into some smart clothes and made my way there. The interview only lasted around 15 minutes and there and then they asked me to start the following week. They sent me an induction to complete from home which comprised of 15 hours of e-learning covering topics such as health and safety and unconscious bias. It was a good induction to the company as it made me feel more confident when I started the job, it helped raise my awareness on the shop floor and made feel more prepared to be part of the company.
Before I had the interview with Boots, I had not had an interview for 18 years. Everything is different to how it used to be then such as zoom meetings and online inductions. There is a different way of learning and doing things now but I feel with Belina GRoW’s help I have been able to adapt quite easily and that has made me feel so much more confident. Since starting the job I can feel myself smiling more as customers are asking for my help and I really enjoy helping them. Boots have been really flexible with my hours, letting me work from 9-2.30pm with a 30 minute break rather than 9.30-3pm so that I can pick up my son from school. It is really nice to back out and meeting people, it’s like a breath of fresh air and I feel I am really thriving character wise, I am usually quite shy but being back at work is helping me to be more open and up for new challenges.
As the job is only temporary for Christmas I am still looking for a full time job and will continue to apply for the jobs on the GRoW Jobs Bulletin. GRoW have really helped me get to where I am today, especially Kaneez texting me every day to come along to sessions (in a lovely positive way). At first I felt a bit awkward but within the first week I realised everyone was so friendly and wanted what is best for me and that made me feel really warm to the whole programme. I think without their help I would have put the job search off and it is only the encouragement of the team that has spurred me on. It’s a great programme that I think many people could really benefit from.”