Valentina Becomes a GRoW App Ambassador

Valentina came to GRoW in February 2023 looking for support to get back to work after a 2.5-year career break to have her son. Valentina has found a community of friends and like-minded people on the GRoW Programme and has become a GRoW App Ambassador in recognition of her engagement and interaction with the App from day one.

Valentina said; “I have 15 years experience in the Hospitality Industry but was made redundant from my last job in September 2020 following a downturn due to the pandemic. It coincided with me finding that I was expecting my first child and I’ve been a stay-at-home mum now for 2.5 years. At the beginning of this year my son qualified for the 15 hours a week childcare allowance which gave me some space and time to think about myself and plans for returning to work.  Being a mum the main barrier I have with finding a job in the hospitality sector is that the hours are not really suitable for mums.  The start times can be as early as 7am and shift work often finishes as late as 11pm – hours that do not work around young children unfortunately.  What concerned me most about returning to work was trying to find a job with flexible hours and having a work gap in my CV.  This was addressed early on the GRoW Programme when we did an activity around transferrable skills which helped me realise that the skills I’d gained since becoming a mum are skills that are valued in the workplace and can actually boost my CV!

Being part of the GRoW Community has been brilliant. I have received amazing support from Sonia who helped me create a great CV and gave me interview tips. Since working with Sonia I have now had 3 telephone interviews and 1 face to face interview. Each time I felt confident and prepared and if it wasn’t for the fact that the hours being offered didn’t suit me then I am confident I would have been offered the jobs as I’ve had great feedback from the interviewers.

GRoW gives you so much more than employment support, the weekly coffee mornings, in particular, are a great way to meet other mums and share our struggles and triumphs. I feel understood and supported in this community of women who are going through similar challenges and the friendships I’ve made have become valuable to me. I always look forward to meeting up with other GRoW members in person, which we occasionally do, but the GRoW App is a great tool to build and strengthen those relationships too – it is the glue that holds everything together, keeping you motivated and engaged any time of the day.

I have been very active with the App, so much so that I have been given the title of GRoW App Ambassador! I often participate in the App’s posts, regularly replying and commenting and occasionally create my own. Whenever I come across information that I think might benefit other members of the GRoW Community, like local activities and workshops, I like to share it. It is a really inclusive space where you feel encouraged and supported and it gives you the opportunity to connect with others who share similar experiences.

I use the App in the daytime, giving it a quick look if I am busy and posting a few responses to things but in the afternoons and evenings when my son is sleeping I have more time to read the articles and resources that are on there.  It’s a great way to learn new things.

Though I am still looking for a part-time job in Hospitality, I am also looking at other jobs that will fit around my son, such as schools jobs.  The important thing for me at the moment is to keep busy and to keep learning. GRoW enrolled me on an Administration Level 2 course which I am currently doing and I am really enjoying it. It helps me to feel as though I am progressing, even if I am not yet working, and it is a qualification that will look good on my CV. Being a mum even spending a short amount of time developing myself and achieving something for myself feels like a big win so I’m really grateful for the opportunity.

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