Pawandeep Prepares to Work in a School

Pawandeep had been working at a hospital in a housekeeping role at weekends and was referred to GRoW in 2022 for help to increase her hours. With support from GRoW she has now completed a Level 3 Teaching Assistant qualification and is volunteering at a local school with the aim of taking up a new part-time position.

Pawandeep said “My job coach referred me to the GRoW Programme, explaining that they have specialist skills in supporting lone parents into work. I had been working a weekend job but needed to increase my hours for Universal Credit.  As a single parent I needed to make sure I had a job that would fit around my daughter and after speaking with Kaneez I became interested in the prospect of working in a school.

I have a Masters degree in history which I gained in my home country but I learned through

GRoW’s Preparing to Work in Schools workshop that to be successful in applying for Teaching Assistant jobs I need to have some relevant experience and qualifications. GRoW found a relevant course for me to do with ABM Training called Teaching and Support Learning and I started last September.  As a Level 3 qualification, part of the training includes a work placement and I was fortunate to land a volunteering opportunity at my daughter’s school. I’m really enjoying it and have been combining it with my studies and my weekend work at the hospital. I have now completed the qualification and the final stage is for my tutor to meet with me for an observation and then hopefully I will be certificated. I have really enjoyed the course from start to finish. The tutor was very good and every week we have an online class. I have completed 11 assignments and 100 hours of volunteer work for the placement and it has given me lots of knowledge and experience to now get a job.  My next step after receiving my certificate will be to apply for a part-time position as a Teaching Assistant so that I can continue with my weekend work and then eventually move to full time working in a school.  The school I have been volunteering in have asked me to let them know when I am certificated so they can put me forward for any job opportunities.

As well as the Level 3 course GRoW enrolled me on a Food and Hygiene course which I successfully completed as this is also a good qualification to have when looking for a job in a school. I have also attended the GRoW Coffee Mornings, which were beneficial and the GRoW App has been a great source of information and advice too.

Without GRoW’s guidance I wouldn’t be where I am now. I didn’t have the support before to learn what I needed to do to get where I wanted to be. The GRoW team have supported me through all of it, increasing my confidence and helping me find the right training and the right career that works for me and my daughter.

Anitha GRoWs her Career Aspirations

Anitha came to the GRoW Programme in the summer of 2023, looking for support in her journey back to work after an 8 year break. In GRoW she has gained new confidence and motivation and is now looking for a future career as a Teaching Assistant.

Anitha said “I joined GRoW in June 2023 and took part in the Preparing to Work in Schools programme which I found really interesting.  I used to lack confidence, especially in speaking English, but I decided to improve by taking online English lessons which I have been doing for over a month now and finding really good.

Before coming to the UK from India 4 years ago I worked as a teacher in a school so restarting my career as a Teaching Assistant would be a good opportunity for me. I have two young children aged 6 and 2 so term-time working is also better for me and my family.

Being part of the GRoW programme has been a great experience for me. I got lots of support from the team members – Sheeja and Saeema who helped me attend a Learning Assessment at a Community Centre in Hillingdon,  Sheeja and Sonia helped me create a strong CV and conducted a mock interview with me giving me more confidence and GRoW Director Liz supported me a lot, recognising me with two GRoW digital badges, one for contributing to the GRoW #SuccessfulSummer campaign and the other for being a GRoW App Ambassador. The GRoW app has become my go-to resource for job information, interview tips, and CV help, I especially like the Jobs Bulletin and Star Jobs but there’s so much advice on the app and so much to learn. I have been really active on the app, posting information for other GRoW members to read and I even won the summer photo competition for a craft I created (see above). It was a big boost to my confidence and I really enjoyed taking part.

Now, my goal is to keep improving my English and enrol in a teaching assistant course at the Thirteen Learning Centre and to apply for more teaching assistant jobs.

GRoW has given me the confidence and support I need to pursue my dreams and proves that with determination and support, anyone can overcome challenges and achieve their goals. I’m really excited for what the future holds for me.

Rabia Focuses on Upskilling

Rabia came to GRoW at the beginning of 2023 through the Mayor of London’s Academies Programme. Looking to return to work after being at home to look after her children she has discovered through GRoW new opportunities and learning experiences that has set her on a new career path.

Rabia said; “Being part of GRoW has been quite transformative for me.  I was introduced to GRoW by Yeading School and my journey began when I met Saeema at the Belina GRoW HQ in Hayes.  Saeema was wonderful, giving me lots of information and advice and really working to understand what I needed to move forward.  I attended a Workshop with Liz and at that time I was thinking about working in a school as I love being around children and I also have relevant experience, having worked as a Midday Supervisor 13 years ago.  However, after speaking with Saeema and Khatera at GRoW I became interested in other opportunities. I learned that the world has changed quite a bit since I was last in work and there are many different types of jobs out there now and jobs that offer more flexible working conditions which may suit me better.  Khatera helped me to enrol on a Digital Skills Course at Harlington Community Centre which I am starting at the end of September and it has made me interested in the idea of working in IT instead as there are more opportunities for remote working in this field.  I’m also exploring the idea of improving my language skills so that I could potentially become a community interpreter. My first language is Urdu but I can speak and write Punjabi too. I feel getting some experience of this will also help to improve my confidence which is something I feel is really important for me to do.

My experience with GRoW has been so beneficial for me. A highlight has been the CV and Interview Workshops which helped me learn so much about myself and what skills I need but also other events such as the Coffee Mornings and the Advice Workshops have taught me a lot about things like good customer service. I really didn’t know where to start before I came to GRoW but they have put me on the right path and I understand now what I need to do to make progress.

The GRoW App is another great tool, in fact it is now my preferred social media platform! I make sure I check it everyday and I find every post informative. I love the fact that I get a ‘ping’ when any new jobs come out as it means I don’t miss anything.

I am now looking forward to starting my IT course and continuing to develop my skills and confidence.”

Shakila’s #SuccessfulSummer

Shakila joined the GRoW Programme in May 2023 and has become one of our most engaged and active members of the GRoW Community. Shakila participated in every one of our #GRoWSuccessfulSummer events and is also a GRoW App Ambassador. Shakila is looking for local work in a school as a Midday Supervisor or Kitchen Assistant in the East Ham area.

Shakila said; “Since joining GRoW I have grown in confidence and it’s given me so many opportunities to practice my English speaking and look at what I want to do with regards to work. I completed college-level education in Pakistan, as well as Entry Level 1 and 2 qualifications in the UK. I have six years of teaching experience in a nursery and primary teaching certificates from Pakistan but I am lacking work experience here in the UK and so I am looking at ways I can develop my skills and experience.

GRoW have made me a GRoW App Ambassador which means I regularly post on the App and have to think about the types of topics and information that other participants on the programme might be interested in learning about. It’s good experience for me and is good for my CV too.

All through the summer I have taken part in the #GRoWSuccessfulSummer events and have learned a lot about how to start my journey to work here in the UK. Even though my background is in teaching, to be a Teacher or Teaching Assistant in the UK I would need to have the relevant qualifications and as I am hoping to find work quickly I am keen to get a job as either a Midday Supervisor or Kitchen Assistant as these are positions that are more accessible for me at the moment.

The next part of my journey to work will be to look at some online courses I can do to help boost my CV and are relevant to working in schools. I love being part of the GRoW Community and I look forward to continuing to work with the GRoW Team, Liz, Mercedes and Sheeja who have been so supportive in helping me to achieve my goals.”

Samreen Achieves Her Dream Job

Samreen, has been the longest participant on the GRoW Programme, joining us in 2018 when she was thinking about going back to work. Samreen, who used to work in the retail sector has now found work as a Teaching Assistant after a 12 year break to raise her children.

Samreen said “I am so happy to now be working again and doing a job that I have wanted to do for many years now.  I am so thankful to the GRoW Team for all of their help in motivating me and helping me believe that I would finally get there.  This is exactly what I have been aiming for and I can’t quite believe I’ve done it!

I used to work in retail but I have always wanted to work in education. When I was young I did a BTEC in software development and I used to teach students at Uxbridge College before my son was born and I gave up work. I have two children but not much family support around me so working in.a school with term-time hours is perfect for me and my family. Once I started thinking about going back to work I started to do some training courses and I was doing a Level 2 Teaching Assistant course when I enrolled onto the GRoW Programme.  Through GRoW I continued to upskill, doing courses such as the ‘Preparing to work in Schools’, the Job Search Workshop and CV and Interview Skills Workshops with Sonia.  I also did a First Aid course with GRoW, the Level 2 IEP Sector Induction for employability professionals and a course that focused on children’s mental health and behavioural issues. These courses were fantastic and really helped to boost my CV as well as giving me so many insights into how to get the sort of job I wanted.  I also worked as a volunteer for a year at my daughter’s school in Hillingdon which was a great experience and helped me see in practice what a Teaching Assistant job actually entailed.

Starting the process of going back to work after 12 years was hard at first as so much has changed since I last worked, for example job applications used to be on paper whereas now everything is online – there is a lot to learn! Being part of GRoW has made an enormous amount of difference to my confidence.  The team members have helped me to believe in myself and to also be resilient when I have gone for interviews but not got the job. It was hard sometimes applying for jobs and putting in a lot of effort to then not hear anything or be told I didn’t get the job. Before getting this job I must have applied for more than 100 jobs and trying so hard and seeing other people around me get jobs but not me was disheartening. I am thankful though for the support of the GRoW Team Members, as each of them played a special role in keeping me motivated and spurring me on.

The GRoW app was my favourite part of GRoW. Whoever made it and keeps it updated does an amazing job as it is so busy all of the time, with so much useful content.  Having everything in one place on the app meant I always knew what was going on. I would get a schedule of the week’s events on a Monday, a jobs bulletin every Thursday with jobs for me to apply to and updates and advice in between. I used to organise my week around it, attending the different events and applying for jobs, it’s a fantastic resource.

I can’t put into words how overjoyed I felt when I was offered the Teaching Assistant job, I was literally in tears. I had two interviews for it and after the second one they called me straight away to give me the good news. The school has a number of young people with social emotional and mental health needs and the first interview was conducted by the students and the second interview by the management. It was a really different way of holding an interview and I so glad the kids liked me and thought I would be right for the job! I started in June and it is a full time position, 32 hours a week. I support all of the children in the class and provide one-to-one support for the children with additional needs. I am loving every minute of the job, it is so fulfilling.

I am really grateful to GRoW for their support over the years and for never giving up, they put so much effort into everyone to help them achieve their goals.”

Olena’s Be Bright Be Brave Online Business Brings Unique Ukrainian Handmade Shoes to the UK Market While Supporting Her Community – (Exclusive discount available for GRoW)

Olena, who supports GRoW’s Ukrainian Women’s Project, has recently set up an online business selling beautiful handmade shoes produced in Ukraine. The new start-up business, Be Bright Be Brave Ltd, was developed following Olena’s completion of GRoW’s ‘GRoW Your Own Business Workshop with Mercedes Grant MIEP, and offers unique and colourful specialist-designed shoes that are not mass-produced and cater to niche customers who appreciate something bright, high quality and unusual.

Olena’s journey into self-employment in the UK started after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. She moved to the UK and found support from British people who were interested in Ukrainian culture and people. In August of that year, she attended a job fair in Kingston, where she met GRoW and was introduced to the programme. In September she met GRoW’s Chantelle, who had the idea of Ukrainian women joining the GRoW programme to help other Ukrainian women. Interpretation skills were needed and Olena was happy to help and became the Employability support worker for the Ukrainian project. She also improved her English and digital marketing skills and participated in a two-week business start-up course with Antonia Kyriacou at Strive Training, taking recommendations from Yvette, a Career Adviser in the Kingston Refugee Centre.

With her newfound knowledge, Olena decided to embark on a project to import handmade ladies’ shoes from Ukraine. She contacted the brand, Chameleon, and agreed that she would be their UK partner and ordered 360 boxes with 11 models of shoes, each in four colours. The shoes are distinctively colourful, made of high-quality leather, some of them are with an anatomic sole, are very soft and comfortable to wear and are available in sizes from 3 to 8.5 (adult). To promote the shoes, Olena is using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Olena also manages the content for her platforms and organised photo and video shoots in the historic centre of Kyiv. She is also running a demo showroom on 20 July in Colets Health and Fitness Club where customers can try on the shoes before buying.

Olena’s mission is not just to sell shoes but also to give back to her community. She has created a discount code for GRoW app users that offers a 10% discount on purchases, and 1% of net sales will go to the main Ukrainian hospital in Kyiv, where children from all over Ukraine come for treatment.

Olena said; “The idea for the business came to me in the Autumn of 2022 and I have learned so many things in that time to get to where the business is now. I have learned about the process of importing, setting up a website, creating content, UK logistics and accounting and how to promote my brand. The GRoW Your Own Business Workshop was a great help for me. I already had an idea of what I wanted to do but Mercedes spurred me on, helping me to believe in myself and motivating me to make it work. Working with GRoW as an employability adviser to support Ukrainian women into work in the UK has also been a great help in building my experience. I have named my business Be Bright Be Brave in recognition of the brave Ukrainian people and the skilled craftspeople at Chameleon, who are continuing to produce fantastic products despite the ongoing war, disruption and devastation going on around them – and those shoes are bought and worn by bright people in the UK”.

Olena’s journey is a testament to the power of determination and the support of a community. Her business, Be Bright Be Brave, is not just a business but also a way to help Ukrainian women and children in need and a way to support the Ukrainian economy at a time of great need.

To find out more about Be Bright Be Brave visit

To take advantage of the exclusive GRoW discount use the code GRoW231 on the checkout at

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Link to YouTube Channel:

If you would like to donate directly to Ohmatdyt Childrens Hospital in Kyiv please visit this page for details


GRoW Newham Graduate Shameela to Participate in GRoW Work Placement Programme

GRoW are delighted to announce that Shameela, a recent graduate of the GRoW Newham Programme held at Altmore Children’s Centre, will be participating in a work placement with GRoW during July and August. As part of the placement, she will be completing a food and hygiene course and focusing on hospitality.

Shameela, who has two children and has previously been a stay-at-home mum, was inspired by the GRoW programme to pursue her interests in working with children and with the support of the work placement, she hopes to gain valuable work experience and boost her CV.

Shameela said; “Being part of the GRoW Programme at Altmore Children’s Centre has been a fantastic experience for me. I haven’t worked before and for the past 19 years, I’ve been a stay-at-home mum. Now my two children are older I was feeling I was wasting my time with the every routine of housework and I needed something for myself and the chance to get out and meet people and also contribute to the household finances. When my sister introduced me to the GRoW Programme, explaining that it is designed to help mums get back to work, I thought I would give it a try.  I attended every session and found it so interesting and impactful and it made me really think about the type of work I would like to do.

I like being around children and I have lots of experience of working with children as I have also looked after my sister’s, as well as my own. My aim is to work in a school, assisting the teachers or working in the kitchen. I really enjoy cooking and it is something I am good at. GRoW have enrolled me on to a Food and Hygiene course, which I am halfway through and really enjoying.

My aim is to start a job that offers me a few hours each day, maybe as a Midday Supervisor, and then progress into different roles that allow me to extend the hours I work. Sheeja at GRoW helped to produce a CV with me which is great but as I have not had a job before I need to do more so that I can add more skills and experience to it. The Food & Hygiene course is a great start and I am also enrolled on the new Customer Services training course with Audrey Bodman which GRoW are providing. Audrey is a great trainer and I learned so much from the first session about good customer service and how to treat customers well. She explains everything so well and I’m really looking forward to the next session.

I was so pleased when GRoW offered me the chance of a work placement. As part of the placement I will be organising a picnic event on August 10th near Newham College. It will be great experience for me and an opportunity to add some more skills and experience to my CV. “

Aisha designs a GRoW work placement

Aisha moved to the UK from Pakistan 5 years ago where she had been working as a Graphic Designer. After being a stay at home mum for three years she was keen to get back to work but was struggling with her confidence. She found help through Belina GRoW, which provides support for mothers seeking employment and now has a work placement where she can put her design talents to good use.

Aisha said: “When I first came to the UK I felt I could do anything. I was educated, I had a degree and had seven years’ work experience but being away from the workplace for so long had affected me. I felt I had lost some of myself somewhere. I was feeling quite demotivated and felt I was wasting all of my talents by not using them in so long. Even though I was doing a bit of freelance work and had set up an Etsy shop and an Ebay shop it wasn’t enough to make me feel fulfilled. What I really needed was to start getting out more, seeing people, talking to people, and feeling like I was back in the world of work.

With my daughter due to start school in September I went along to a GRoW Programme session in Newham to find out if they could help me get back to work. There was a creche there which meant that for just a little while I could focus on myself as I knew my daughter was being taken care of and I didn’t have to worry. I got to meet with other women and talk openly about things that I haven’t had the chance to do before. It gave me the opportunity to just be myself for a few hours which was such a positive experience.

The GRoW trainers were so good, they really listen and give importance to each individual person. I really enjoyed it and and it made feel good about myself.  It also made me realise exactly how much I had been doing as a mum and that I actually have a lot to offer.  I went along to every session each week and I credit those sessions with giving me back my confidence.

After the session GRoW set me up with the GRoW App and I love it! Instead of opening Instagram every day now I open the GRoW App. It is full of really useful information to help you understand everything about getting a job. Sometimes I wake up and open it and see things like the motivational quotes and it sets you up for the day and makes you feel more positive.


I am looking for part-time work and will also be speaking to my daughter’s new school to see if I can do some volunteering work but in the meantime GRoW have offered me a work placement to do some graphic design work for them which is a great opportunity to boost my CV.

Being part of the GRoW Programme has restored my confidence and self-esteem and help me find a way to while still being able to care for my child. It’s been such a positive experience and I am looking forward to starting the work placement.”


Hillingdon parents get support to get ready for work

Rozina, a family support worker at Yeading School runs Community House, a space for school parents and the local community to come together and get support from one another.  Following the pandemic Rozina became aware that many of the parents who were coming to Community House were struggling with confidence and financial issues and were in need of more support. The rising cost of living and a recent change to the cap on Universal Credit had further exacerbated their anxiety and many of the parents she supports were actively looking to get a job to help support their family.

Rozina reached out to her local Adult Education Centre who put her in touch with Saeema at the GRoW Programme to see if they could offer support to parents in helping them raise their confidence and to equip them with any employability skills they were lacking.

Rozina said; “At Community House we are dedicated to helping people from the community move forward in their lives and we offer a place for them to come together, meet and discuss their worries and concerns and get support from one another. When I spoke with Saeema at GRoW and she explained what the programme offers I invited her to come and speak at one of our Coffee Mornings. Many of the women we support face challenges to employment such as language barriers or not having worked before but GRoW are experienced in working with people from all backgrounds, with a special focus on supporting women, and Saeema was able to get a lot of engagement.  At our first Coffee Morning with GRoW we had 25 women enrol who were interested in getting a job which was a great success.

The ladies who joined the GRoW Programme were given a wide range of support, from job searching workshops, help to build their CVs and interview practice as well as help in building their confidence and prepare for work. It has had a very positive impact with some of the parents already securing jobs or training.  I have one parent who has 5 children who has joined the GRoW Programme and I saw her recently and she was so happy – it is making a real difference to the confidence of the parents I support and it is great to see.”

Rozina is a regular face at Community House and is continuing to enrol more parents on to the GRoW programme so that parents can receive one to one support. which she says is needed more now than ever due to the cost of living crisis. She is hopeful that Community House will be able to continue working with GRoW to give this important support to parents and the extended community to help more people improve their lives.

Sara Raises Confidence and Gets a Sales Job

Sara came to GRoW for help to find a job after being out of work for 7 years and having a young family. She was lacking in confidence but has found support from the GRoW Team and has now accepted a new job working in retail.

Sara said “I heard about GRoW through my local Community Centre where I used to take my daughter.  I had worked in retail before I moved to the UK but I hadn’t worked in 7 years and it was affecting my confidence.  I felt like I was lost and didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know how to apply for a job and I didn’t have the confidence to start, I just needed some help and support, which was exactly what I found at GRoW.

Saeema was my adviser and she invited to attend the GRoW Coffee Morning where I can learn about other ladies on the programme which was a great place to start. It was a supportive place and every week I learned something different.  I went on to the CV Workshop and Interview Workshop with Sonia and Sheeja and that was amazing.  My CV had been really poor before and it was quite a worry for me.  Sonia and Sheeja helped me produce a new CV which was so good and the experience of going through the interview workshop was so valuable, it really raised my confidence so that when I did apply for a job and was granted an interview I approached it in a way I never thought possible.  I found the job on Indeed for a Sales job for a retail company and have just accepted the offer to start next week.

I am very grateful to the GRoW Team for helping to support me and build my confidence.  All of the workshops I attended and the GRoW app too were so valuable. The app kept me updated with news and events and the daily lessons and motivators really helped drive me forward.  I am now looking forward to starting my new career.