Michelle has been out of the workplace for 8 years after giving up work to become a full-time carer to her son. She came to GRoW to help her to start preparing for returning to work in the future and exploring opportunities to upskill.
Michelle said; “I met the GRoW Team at an event in Hillingdon and was really interested in their approach. I had been thinking about the idea of going back to work when the time was right but I didn’t know when that was going to be and I was also aware that times change and that being out of work for 8 years meant that I might need to navigate things a little differently.
What I liked most about GRoW was that there was no pressure. They made me feel at ease and were happy to support me throughout my journey rather than rush me into just finding a job. At first I was supported by Deonna who listened to my story and helped me feel at ease; I felt she was really interested in helping me as an individual, not just putting me through a tried and tested programme. The whole approach felt so personal as it put my needs at the centre. I was then assigned Saeema as my Adviser and she was so helpful too. We spoke about my current situation and she discussed different pathways with me, the kind of job I wanted and the work experience I had already gained to see whether I needed to retrain or upskill. My previous jobs included doing visual artwork like window dressing and creative merchandising for the retail sector and I also worked in a Childrens Centre and as a support for a foster carer. I enjoyed working with children most and decided that this would be the best fit for me for a future career.
I went on an Employability Skills Workshop that Sonia Puri from GRoW was running which was a really good experience. She spoke about transferrable skills and how every person, even if you have been a stay at home mum for years, has skills that could be an asset to an employer. It was really uplifting and helped to build my confidence a lot. Sonia also gave me lots of help with my CV and was just fantastic to work with.
Being out of work for quite a few years was the main worry for me as I couldn’t help thinking about how fast things have moved over recent years, especially with technology. I felt like a beginner again and realised I would need to work on myself and especially my confidence in order to get on the right path. Even though I have qualifications and experience I felt the length of time I had been out of the school environment could be an issue so it was great to be able to attend the Preparing to Work in Schools 45 week programme with GRoW which was an excellent refresher, reminding me of things I had forgotten and updating me of current policies and procedures.
While on the course we heard from a speaker about a Level 3 Teaching Assistant course run by ABM that was the perfect opportunity for me, I applied and was really pleased when I was accepted. It is all held online which takes the pressure off having to travel to do it and fits in really well with my life. The tutors are really supportive, they look at you as an individual learner and work with you to overcome any obstacles to your learning, I am really impressed with the course and enjoying the experience and look forward to qualifying in March next year.
Being part of the GRoW Programme has given me so much more confidence in my capabilities which is so important. I think as a mother you can often feel invisible and isolated but GRoW has given me the opportunity to meet other people in similar but also different circumstances because every person is different and we all have different experiences and reasons why we are not working.
The GRoW app is another highlight of what they offer – it is just fantastic! It helps you feel like you are part of a community and it is not just one way either, you can do your own posts if you want to and comment on other people’s. The motivational messages are also great and help you feel more motivated. We all live such busy lives these days and the app helps you access information when you want to, it is so flexible and helps us all work around each other at times that suit which I think is really great.
Since being with GRoW I feel so much more positive and confident than before and am really looking forward to completing my qualification and then looking for work in a school.”