GRoW launch new employability programme to help support Ukrainian refugees into work

Training and Development specialists Belina GRoW are helping to support women who have fled the Russian invasion of Ukraine by helping them to find jobs across London. The new initiative, which began last week, is currently offering support to 30 women in the London Borough of Kingston by providing advice, help and guidance on childcare, job searching, careers and education as well as practical assistance on CV writing and interview skills.

Olena Sturrock who is leading on the programme said; “The biggest barrier to employment that most of the women are facing is with language.  Those who need it are currently undertaking ESOL courses at Kingston College to address this but whilst they are studying they still want to find work but have so far found it difficult to navigate the system. I am really pleased that through GRoW’s dedicated programme I am able to offer a helping hand to fellow Ukrainian’s by providing free translation services and access to specialist employability support from expert advisers who have extensive knowledge of how to support women who face multiple barriers into work.”

The women on the programme come from a wide variety of career backgrounds including accountancy, interior design, hairdressing, teaching and media with different levels of education (Levels 1-4 equivalent). Many however are unable to pursue similar jobs in the UK due to the differing skills, qualifications and language requirements and need help to learn employability techniques in the UK so they can find alternative jobs. Most of the women also have more than one child and need support to access childcare so that they are able to work.

Liz Sewell, Founder and Director of Belina GRoW said; “We specialise in supporting women with complex barriers to employment and we have a unique approach that focuses on raising their confidence and motivation.  Through this programme we are delighted to be able to help these women who have been displaced from their jobs in Ukraine and are trying to support themselves and their children through an extremely tough time in their lives.

Our programme offers practical and well-being support in a friendly and nurturing way and a space for them to come together with other Ukrainian women who are in a similar position so they can draw support from one another.  Our employability programme teaches them the tools and techniques they need to search and apply for jobs in the UK as well as interview practice, childcare advice and insights into the transferrable skills they possess.”

Our next Ukrainian Women’s Employability Event will focus on how to create an effective CV and how to prepare for an interview and will take place on 7th February on Zoom.  For more information contact

Syeda Sultana joins the GRoW Team

Belina GRoW are delighted to announce that Syeda Sultana has joined the GRoW team as our new Employability Support Worker and will be working with our in-work participants and our Bengali speaking participants.

Syeda brings with her a wealth of customer experience which she gained in her previous employment as a Post Office Branch Manager, a position she held for 11 years in branches of WHSmith’s including their flagship Oxford Street branch in London. She is also a former participant of the GRoW Programme having come to us for support to find a job when she was made redundant and became long-term unemployed.  Syeda is a mother to two children and also volunteers at a local school.

Speaking of her appointment Syeda said; “I am really excited about becoming a member of the GRoW Team.  Ever since I came to GRoW as a participant in July 2021 I have been constantly impressed with the organisation’s ethos and values.  Being given the opportunity to be part of the team is a huge achievement for me and I am so looking forward to beginning my journey as an Employability Support Worker, helping to support people to find work or progress in work.

Since coming on to the GRoW Programme I have been working to enhance my knowledge and skills through a range of training courses. I have completed a BTEC Level 1 in Customer Services with Twiin and gained a Level 1 Employability Certificate from Strive Training.  I have also started a Level 3 Teaching Assistant course with ABM and work in a school twice a week on a voluntary basis.  These learning opportunities have really helped to boost my confidence and employability skills and helped me think about the sort of career I want to do.

Being a mum it was really important for me to find a job that would allow me to work flexible hours and one of the many great things about Belina GRoW is that it is an organisation that not only acknowledges this, but also champions it.  All of the GRoW Team members work flexibly and have that complete understanding of what it means to be a working mum.  Joining GRoW is the ultimate dream for me as I can work term-time only and I can also work from home which gives me the freedom I need to be able to work around my family.”

Liz Sewell FIEP, Founder and Director of Belina GRoW said; “Syeda is a huge asset to our growing GRoW Team.  She has been an engaged and active participant throughout her journey on the GRoW Programme, always striving to improve and enhance her knowledge and her strong bi-language skills and customer service experience will be a real advantage when supporting our participants to find sustainable work or progress in work.

Our flexible working policy is enabling us to attract a high level of talent into our growing workforce and at the same time provide more opportunities for working mums to achieve a proper work/life balance. This is something we are really proud of and will continue to champion as an important employment choice.”

Michelle takes a Teaching Assistant Course

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.”

Rekha Looks for Retail Work

Rekha was interested in finding out how to get work experience as she had not had a job before. Initially she was lacking in confidence, especially in speaking to people as English is not her first language. She has engaged fully with the GRoW Programme activities which has boosted her confidence and she has been actively looking for work in the retail sector.

Rekha said “I heard about GRoW some time ago but wasn’t sure if it was really for me until one of my friends who had been through the programme recommended it to me.  I spoke with Kaneez and she signed me up and it has been such a wonderful experience for me.

I found it really hard to speak to people in English as I really lacked confidence and was very shy but since joining GRoW that has all changed.  The people at GRoW have been so helpful, they really know how to bring everyone together so we get support from each other. I started off going slowly but now I understand English so much better and my speaking has improved so much. It does take time to learn a new language and being able to practice it with people makes so much difference.

I have gained so much from all of the GRoW events I have attended.  I have done the CV and Interview Workshops with Sonia and I really couldn’t believe how many skills and achievements I actually have and have now been able to put on my new CV.  I have never worked before and have no experience apart from some social work I did in my own country as a volunteer.  Doing the CV Workshop was really valuable for me as I really wouldn’t have known what to put on my CV without Sonia’s help – my CV is now really good and I am sending out to potential employers when I look for jobs.

When I did the Interview Workshop I asked Sonia if I could record it as I thought it would help me to practice afterwards. I thought it would be good to be able to see myself from the other person’s point of view, to see what I needed to work on and improve. It was the first interview I ever had and I was so nervous when we did it.  I thought, if I’m this nervous with someone I know, what will I be like with a stranger?  Having it recorded really worked well for me though as I now feel so much more confident than before.

I also attended the GRoW Picnics and the Preparing to Work in Schools sessions and I always go to the GRoW Coffee Mornings too as you learn new things all the time.

Most recently I have enrolled on the GRoW Mindful Parenting Course that started this week.  It was so interesting!  I have an 11 year old son who has just started secondary school and I have been thinking a lot about how I need to change and adapt the way I speak to him now that he is growing older.  The Mindful Parenting Course has given me a lot of tips about how to be calm and listen in a different way. It was a real eye opener and I am really looking forward to the lessons in the coming weeks.

Another GRoW event I attended which was really useful to me was the Childcare Information Session which helped me understand how important good childcare is and the difference it can make to your life when you can learn to believe and trust someone else to look after your child.

I have done the Job Searching Workshop which was really good and I have been searching mostly for retail positions such as Customer Assistant roles. I think this is the best sort of job for me at the moment.

Doing all the events and getting involved with everything GRoW has to offer has been a fantastic experience for me.  Everyone on the team is so energetic and upbeat and it just makes you want to be a part of it.  Some sessions I attend just because I think there might be something I learn which will be of help to me in the future or maybe I can share my own knowledge and help someone else!”

Evie starts a job as a Nursery Assistant

Evie had worked for 23 years as an Environmental Health Inspector in Hong Kong but had not had a full time job since moving to the UK in December 2020. She had been tentatively looking for work but wasn’t proficient in accessing job sites and wasn’t sure how best to approach the job search process. She came to GRoW in May 2022 after seeing an advert that we can help mums get back to work.

Evie said “I saw an advert for GRoW in my daughter’s school newsletter and thought I would give it a try and see if it could help me.  I had been kind of looking for work but I had no clue really, I had no direction or idea of how to approach it.  I had been doing some part time work, just 1.5 hours a day as an SMSA in my daughter’s school but I really needed to work more hours.

Even though I had a good job in Hong Kong where I was a health inspector, my qualifications and certificate is not recognised here and I would need to do a 3 year course if I wanted to return to that field of work.  I also fancied a change and wanted to explore more opportunities to work with children which is what I really enjoy.

When I joined GRoW I did the GRoW Bootcamp and the Coffee Morning and then went on to do the CV Writing and Interview Workshops.  All of the Workshops helped me get to know the culture here in the UK in job searching and to also understand the qualities and skills that employers are looking for in the different jobs they offer. Things can be very different in different countries and it was such an insightful experience to learn about these things and to learn how to use the Job Sites.  The Bootcamp was all about setting your mind to new things and new ways and it was especially interesting to learn about transferrable skills. It was knowing that I have these transferrable skills from my previous work that gave me courage to look for jobs.

GRoW produce a newsletter every week which contains a number of local jobs that you can apply for and it was really useful to see all the different sorts of jobs that are out there. I looked at all the jobs and picked up key words that I could look up on Indeed to narrow down the jobs that were of interest to me.

Getting a CV was so important for me.  I have never written a CV before and I have never needed one as I only had to fill in a form to get my previous job and then I stayed in the same job for 23 years.  The idea of writing a CV was horrifying and I didn’t know what I needed to include or how to go about it.  Working with Sonia on the CV Workshop was amazing as she helped me put my CV together and picked out what was important.  She also gave me lots of advice to help me keep going, advising me to send out applications regularly and also to make sure I really make a lot of effort at the start of Summer if I want to get a job in a school in September as that is when the Education sector tend to recruit. I have been sending out job applications every day now since the start of Summer and I thought that was really good advice.

The Interview Practice was really good for me as it helped me to organise the way I present myself.  English is not my first language and I tend to speak in a very complicated way which can make it very difficult for me to communicate effectively.  Also there are a lot of technical terms in my previous job and I find it difficult to try to explain this.  Sonia helped to summarise it so that I could communicate it better when I have an interview which has made me feel much more confident.

Because I was already working in a school as an SMSA I did the Preparing to Work in Schools course as I wanted to see if I could go for a Teaching Assistant or School Administrator Job.  I learned through the course that I need to do some training if I want to be a TA but I also reconsidered whether that is really what I want to do.  I applied for a full-time Nursery Assistant job instead and was offered the position which starts on 1st August. It was funny when I went to the interview as they said I would need to do a Food and Hygiene Course but with my old job as a Health Inspector I feel quite qualified in this area already!

Even though I am now starting work my GRoW Adviser Kaneez has still offered to help me further and has offered me the opportunity to do an ESOL Course to improve my English language and also a Safeguarding course which I look forward to doing. Being part of GRoW has really helped me a lot. They continually urge you to keep going which helps to motivate you and keep on.  It is quite tiring to keep searching for jobs and sometimes hard to motivate yourself, especially when you get no response from an application; it can be quite draining and frustrating.   GRoW are always there though to push me and drive me forward.”

Delilah Flies Higher

Delilah joined the GRoW Programme in January 2021 after an abusive relationship had left her unemployed and as a single parent. Delilah now has three jobs, working as a SMSA and providing wraparound support as a Breakfast Club and After School worker.

Delilah said “When I first came to GRoW I was highly anxious and desperate to find a job.  I had left an abusive relationship 6 months before the first Covid lockdown and became a single parent to my four year old son.  I had been working as a Passenger Services Assistant at Heathrow, where I had worked for 13 years but my son was severely affected by the domestic abuse he had witnessed and I was no longer able to leave him with professional childcare or anyone else for that matter.  My employer did not allow me the flexibility I needed to be able to support my son and so I had no choice other than to reluctantly resign from my job.  I had to go on to Universal Credit but after a period of time, as I was a European Citizen, I was told by my work coach that I had to find a job within three months or my benefits payments would stop.  It was quite a harrowing time for me and I was feeling very pressurised.

I came across a website for Heathrow employees who had been made redundant and when I spoke with them they put me in touch with Belina GRoW. I had no idea what to expect, what level of commitment was required and what it would entail but I signed up anyway and quickly found that they could show me lots of opportunities.

I had been in the Aviation industry for a long time and initially it was quite hard for me to let go of that field.  However, my son needed a lot of support and I knew I needed a job that would revolve around my parental responsibilities and so I came to the conclusion that working in a school would be the best option for me.  My problem was that I had no experience of working with children and when I applied for jobs in schools, despite having lots of customer services experience, I kept being rejected.

I knew I had to do more if I wanted to work in a school and so I found a face to face course that I could do during school hours called ‘Supporting to work in schools’ which was offered by the Learning Curve Group and I also did a First Aid course that was offered by GRoW.

I went on CV Workshop with Sonia who was so supportive and just brilliant.  She helped me open my eyes to the skills I had such as the different languages I speak and she also helped me improve my knowledge of Microsoft Excel – she really went above and beyond.

Coming from a background which was totally different to working with children, initially when potential employers asked me whether I had any experience with children I told them no.  It took a while for me to realise that as a mother I have lots of experience with children.  I also helped children in my previous job when they were travelling alone and I had looked after my friends’ children too.  Once I realised this I decided I would be more clever!

I applied for some school jobs via my local Council’s website and got two interviews on the same day, 15 minutes apart in two different towns, I opted for the one who telephoned me first and was the easiest commute, went for the interview and was offered the job as an SMSA.  I started the job in January this year and then in March I found a job at a Breakfast Club and in June I started at their After School Club too.  It is just across the road from me and my son comes with me which means I don’t need childcare and can spend more time with him which is perfect.

For me, being part of GRoW has been a combination of personal growth and functioning as a single parent as well as finding my way back into employment in a way that wouldn’t affect my son too much.  Throughout my time on the Programme I was supported by Chantelle who was my Adviser.  She was always there for me as a shoulder to cry on, even if it wasn’t work related, I could confide in her and she would guide me in the right direction.

The best thing about GRoW is that I never felt there was ever any pressure.  You grow at your own pace and that was what impressed me most. Nobody forces you to do anything you are just introduced to many opportunities and it is up to you to pick up and go forward with what interests you.  It has all worked out so positively for me and I am looking forward to the future now, developing more skills through learning and continuing to support my son.

Archana and Sheeja prepare for work

Archana and Sheeja joined the GRoW Programme as they were keen to start looking for work following career breaks to raise their children.  They have both engaged fully with the GRoW activities and recently attended the GRoW Preparing to Work in Schools sessions which has piqued their interest in a range of school roles as well as giving them food for thought for other jobs they could apply for.

Archana said; “I first heard about the GRoW Programme through my son’s school as the GRoW team came to introduce themselves after a parents meeting one day.  Sheeja and I went along to find out what they were all about and we were really interested in what GRoW had to offer.  We were both looking to return to work but not only did we lack the information on where to start, we were both quite low in confidence and it was holding us back.

I had worked as a dietician in a hospital in India but I left my job when I had my child and soon after we moved to Europe for my husband’s work.  I hadn’t considered going back to work until my son was older and so I have spent the past 10 years focusing on my family and being a wife and mother.  Since moving to the UK I have made some friends and I have been very comfortable with my life but I also felt I had lost some of my identity.  I felt it was time to start focusing on myself a bit and going back to work was a good place to start.

Since joining GRoW I have been fully involved with all of the activities – the Friday Coffee Mornings, the CV and Interview Workshops, GRoW Bootcamp and most recently the Women into Work Session which was really excellent.  All the ladies who attended were from different backgrounds and had children attending different schools in the area We spoke about so many different things, not just about how to find a job, but things relating to social and community events in my area for example.  I was given so much information that I hadn’t been aware of before and it was so great to be able to meet everyone face to face.

Something I had become interested in following the Covid-19 lockdown when I had been homeschooling my son was the idea of becoming a Teaching Assistant. When GRoW told me about their Preparing to Work in Schools Programe I really wanted to go along because I didn’t know very much about how to get that type of job.  The Preparing to Work in Schools Programme was so informative because it introduced me to so many more opportunities than just being a Teaching Assistant.  I hadn’t realised there were so many different roles and it taught me all about each role and what type of experience, skills or qualifications I would need for each role.  I also learned how best to approach schools to volunteer or find work.  One of the most important pieces of advice they gave was to look at the individual school’s values statement.  I didn’t know that each school has their own set of values which they publish on their websites or on the job description and you need to understand this before you apply for a job so that you can tailor what you say and how their values fit with your own.

Preparing to work in schools was 4 sessions, held remotely over Zoom and we got to meet lots of other mums and listen to our different experiences.  We had breakout rooms where we could raise questions and there were lots of opportunities to network and interact with each other, getting more and more information all the time.  It was very productive for me and for the past two months I have felt so much happier with myself.  Before I joined GRoW I really wasn’t that confident but that has changed.  My confidence has really increased and I am so proud of myself.  I am learning new things all the time, getting new experiences and will be doing a Safeguarding course now and all for free!

GRoW have helped me every step of the way to help guide me on where to find jobs, who to contact and how.  All of the GRoW team members have tried so hard for me that I want to try hard for them too and push myself forward. When I first went on the Preparing to Work in Schools programme I had the idea of just being a Teaching Assistant but I learned so much more about working in all different kinds of jobs and not just in schools, and all the different things we need to do before we apply that it has made me rethink. I am actively looking for a job now, not just in schools but in other industries too, such as retail or healthcare.  The CV Sonia worked on with me is now ready and even though I have been out of work for almost 10 years my CV shows I have lots of skills and experience. Recognising this has given me so much confidence and I can’t wait now to start applying for jobs and I’ll give anything a shot!

Sheeja said; “Before moving to the UK in 2018 I had worked in India for a Telecoms company as a Testing Engineer. When my child started full time education I became interested in going back to work but the pandemic hit which meant I delayed it for a while as I was homeschooling my child.  When he went back to school I enrolled in some courses related to networking and learning programme languages which relate to the job I had in Telecoms as I thought it would be good to refresh my knowledge and achieve a certification if I wanted to return to that sector.  As these courses are long-term I was keen to start exploring other opportunities in the meantime and so joined GRoW to find out how they could help me get back to work.

Joining GRoW is one of the best things I have ever done as they have helped me gain confidence and believe in myself that I can do it.  I have enrolled in so many courses now and have applied for jobs too.  I was thinking a lot about working in a school because working just term-time would suit my family and so when I was offered the chance to go on the Preparing to Work in Schools Programme I was really interested.  It was a great help because they gave me so much information on the types of jobs available and the qualifications I would need and also how to tailor my CV when I apply to a school. It was very informative and at the end of the session they provided us with the opportunity to study a range of courses for free.  We could do Safeguarding, Food and Hygiene and Data Protection courses and I will definitely be doing these. I am open to the idea of any job now and will start applying soon.  Once I have done the Safeguarding training I will apply for a Teaching Assistant or Admin role in a school.

GRoW have absolutely increased my confidence and anyone who saw me on the first day of GRoW will definitely say so!  I have learned something new from every session I have attended and felt more confident each time as a result. I have spoken to new people and got to know people from all different backgrounds.  The employability sessions with Sonia were so informative, helping me understand how to respond to questions, how to tailor my cv and write covef letters.  I joined the GRoW Bootcamp which was 4 sessions and the difference in all of us from when we first met is amazing.  All of us have become more confident and have clear goals of where we want to be and what we are going to do.  GRoW really has been great and I’m looking forward to putting all of the things I have learned into use.”

Tracey is back in the world of work

Tracey came to GRoW in November 2019 looking for support to get a part-time job but when the pandemic hit, she was forced to change her focus to homeschooling her three children. With GRoW’s support, she has now re-entered the workforce in an admin position where she is developing her skills for the future.

Tracey said “I had worked previously for some prestigious companies including Glaxo SmithKline and Heathrow Airport where I had worked my way up from an admin role to Internal Communications, for which I studied for a CIM Certificate in Marketing.  I was unfortunately made redundant from Heathrow a year after having my first two children, who are twins.  I did work from home for a while for a recruitment firm, doing social media before my youngest was born but following that, hadn’t worked for five years before joining GRoW.  Even though I had good work experience, I now needed a job with part time hours that would fit around my children and provide me with the opportunity to work my way back up again, after being out of the workplace for so long.

When I contacted GRoW, I was assigned Tosin as my adviser and she was so helpful.  She was really good at checking in on me and finding out what supported I needed.  I wanted to start applying for jobs but my CV, although fairly good, needed some modernising and refreshing and so Tosin put me in touch with Sonia who was extremely helpful and patient.  I really valued her help.  I started looking on different job sites and was being very specific in terms of the hours I was able to work as I had to get the balance right.  I crafted cover letters for specific jobs and Sonia looked over them to check if I had missed anything and to ensure the important points would stand out, which she’s so good at.  One of the jobs I was particularly interested in was at Brunel University which was a full-time position, unfortunately I didn’t get an interview which was disappointing, especially as I had taken part in the Interview Coaching group workshop and One to One Mock Interview with Sonia which really helped get me into the mindset of what I needed to do at an interview.

In November 21 I found a different admin job at Brunel University that I was interested in applying for.  They were looking for more than one part time position in different departments and although the job role requested quite a lot of PA elements and I didn’t really have those skills, I felt I had nothing to lose and decided to give it a go.  Sonia’s help with the cover letter and mock interview was invaluable and when I applied and was offered an interview, I felt really confident.  Before I had the interview, Sonia and I had a chat on the telephone beforehand and she helped me feel more prepared. The interview went really well and I was offered the job.

Brunel University is a great place to work and I am really enjoying it.  I started in January and work 17.5 hours per week.  I have found some things like minute-taking quite tricky but I have received a lot of support and feel I am learning new skills all the time.  Even though I have a certain skillset in Communications that I could be using right now, I am more interested in just being part of the workforce, being around people and learning new things until my youngest child is a bit older.  I really want to thank the GRoW team for understanding this and for supporting me in my journey back to work.  Tosin was regularly sending me messages to see how she could support me and checking how I was. She was great at looking after my emotional health and Sonia was so patient and supportive with all the practical elements.  Eventually, when I am ready I will look for positions that will stretch me more but in the meantime I am really happy gaining new skills and being back in the world of work.”

Sonia gets a better job with GRoW In-Work Support

Sonia had been working as a part-time administrator but had the capacity to work more hours in a more permanent position but needed flexibility for her family commitments. With GRoW’s support Sonia has recently started a new job as a Finance Administrator.

Sonia said “I came to the UK from India where I had been working for a company as a Team Leader in Business Research before leaving to have my son.  My plan on arriving in the UK was to return to work when my child was around the age of 2 or 3 but when he was diagnosed with autism my plans had to change.  I took take time out from work to take care of my son and then when I had my younger child I forgot about working for a while.  Years went by and with my son now in senior school and my younger child settled in primary I started working for my husband’s company as a part-time administrator that allowed me the flexibility I still needed to fit work around my family.

One day I was at my youngest child’s school and I saw an advert for GRoW about helping working mums get a better job and better pay.  I thought why not give it a try? My children were at school all day and though I was helping out at my husband’s company I had the capacity to do more.  I got in touch with GRoW and started attending their events and workshops. I started applying for jobs and applied to British Airways for a HR position and a Finance Administrator job at Salisbury Support for Autism in West Drayton.  Sonia did some work on my CV offering me some advice on changes I should make and I think it made all the difference and caught the employers’ eye.

I was really pleased to be offered interviews for both jobs and I enrolled on the Interview Coaching Workshop with Sonia.  She really helped me prepare for the interviews, we did a one to one which was fantastic as she offered me advice about how to address the flexibility I needed. I got a lot of support from her and she helped me with how to answer the questions.  I felt quite confident when I had the interviews and I was offered both of the jobs!  I chose the Salisbury Support for Autism position as it offered more flexibility and is a better job than I had before.  The core hours are 9 – 5 but I have gained some flexibility from my boss so I can drop my child to school and leave my office at 3 and then work from home for the remaining hours.  As I can’t leave my son alone during school holidays they have said I can get the flexibility of adjusting my hours to suit which is just what I need.

I found the support that the GRoW Team gave me throughout was really helpful. Liz was a huge motivator and gave me a great boost when I first joined as I was 50/50 about whether to go for it or not.  I had so many questions and doubts but the initial session with Liz gave me the drive and motivation I needed.  Sonia really helped me improve my confidence and gave me tips on how to present myself.   I am really grateful for their help”.


Indiana is an Inspiration

Indiana came to the GRoW Programme at the end of 2021 looking for support to improve her English and gain voluntary experience to help build her confidence and motivation. Indiana’s Adviser Chantelle [pictured] spoke to Indiana about her experience.

“Indiana’s goal is to work for the NHS.  She attended all of the GRoW workshops which helped improve her confidence and she felt motivated to push forward with studying and volunteering. Indiana has been a GRoW Star from the very beginning with a huge drive to better herself.  It has been so inspiring to see.

“After Indiana had completed the Workshops with GRoW she went on to do an online ESOL course, NHS Career Level 1 Employability Course and is now volunteering in Hillingdon Hospital doing admin.  Indiana previously worked in Admin in her home country and is now applying her experience here by volunteering and building up her English.  Indiana is a great example of someone who has taken the opportunities GRoW has to offer and has achieved her goal of improving her confidence and motivation as a result.  Indiana is proud of what she has achieved and says “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Well done Indiana!