Nasrine’s Journey from Engagement to Education

In September 2023, Nasrine joined the GRoW Community in September after learning about the GRoW Programme at her daughter’s school in Hillingdon. With a young daughter in Year 1 and a son in Year 5 she felt that the time was right for her to start thinking about moving into education or work and has actively engaged in learning opportunities to work towards her goal of becoming a Teaching Assistant.

Nasrine said “I’m so pleased I made the decision to join GRoW. It has opened up so many opportunities for me to explore and it has strengthened my motivation to take every step I need to achieve my dream career.

I came to the UK 10 years ago from Algeria where I worked in a laboratory related to the production of medicine, it wasn’t related to my studies at University, which was in finance, but it did give me lots of customer service experience.  When I lived in Slough I did an Early Years course at a college which made really think about teaching as a career path. I always remember the teacher talking about the impact of the relationship between an adult and a child and the importance of being a good role model and this stuck with me. When I became a mother the experience further impacted my career aspirations.  I discovered I had a passion for education when we moved from Slough to Hayes, and I spent some time home-educating her. I found it really interesting how being engaged with children’s learning can have such a positive impact on their lives and make such a difference and it gave me a dream to aspire to.

I was aware that having not worked for 10 years, or in the UK, my CV would be lacking, so before joining GRoW I enrolled on a Functional Skills Maths and English course and also with an IT course at the Harlington Centre in Hillingdon.  Currently, I am also doing a course about understanding challenging behaviour in children but when I joined the GRoW Programme I found out about other courses I could do which would help me on my journey.  What I love about GRoW is the way they make it easy to see what is available and what type of learning will be best suited to my goals. I know how important some qualifications can be to finding a job, even volunteering positions, and so having that support to choose the right course is so valuable. I am currently in the process of enrolling on a Level 2 Teaching Assistant course through GRoW which is essential to equip me with the skills and knowledge needed to work in this role. Kaneez also made me aware of an Autism Awareness course that I could do and I am planning to do this after the Teaching Assistant course as I really feel that having that extra and more in-depth understanding will help me gain even stronger skills and knowledge.

GRoW isn’t just about getting people into work, it’s much more than that. The team help you navigate the right educational routes and give you a sense of direction and purpose. They help you understand what is important, how to present yourself at an interview, how to sell your skills to an employer, and they give you confidence and motivation to drive forward. They have helped shape a path for me so I can see how far I’ve progressed and what route I need to take next. It’s like a roadmap and I’m on my journey to success.”

Sumithra Seeks a Schools Job  

Sumithra’s journey towards returning to work started with a simple wish to do something different with her day. As a mum to 7-year-old and 20-month-old daughters, she was looking for a change from her regular routine and through the GRoW Programme found inspiration for a new career.

Sumithra said “I found out about the GRoW Programme in a leaflet at Sheringham School in Newham and thought it would not only be a break from my normal day but also a good opportunity to explore ideas around returning to work. As a mother to two young children, the GRoW Session’s focus on working in schools aligned perfectly with my family’s needs as I really need a job that allows me to work the hours that fit around my children. I had prior work experience in retail but had taken a career break when I had my youngest child, planning to go back to work when she begins nursery next year. The timing of the Programme was therefore perfect for me as it has motivated me to start the journey towards work now rather than waiting until she starts.

The GRoW Programme offered comprehensive training, covering CV building, interview skills, and for those people who are interested in self-employment, business planning. As well as providing really useful practical tools it did wonders for my confidence and motivation.

As part of the activities, we had to stand up and speak, which being quite a shy and reserved person was quite scary at first!  Liz and Michelle who ran the sessions were great at alleviating my fears though, explaining that there are no wrong or right answers which made it so much easier. It was such a confidence booster to participate fully in this way and it helped to get the whole group working together. This was a key part of what the programme offered – the chance to be part of a supportive community with like-minded people – and it was instrumental in helping me feel motivated to work towards my goal.

I have now completed the 5 sessions at Sheringham Children’s Centre and am looking forward to starting the Multiply Programme next Tuesday and developing more skills.  These training courses and the school-specific training such as Safeguarding that GRoW have introduced me to will be invaluable for my CV when I start applying for jobs.

The GRoW Programme has been such a refreshing experience for me to do something with my mind and really think about myself and my future and I am looking forward now to the next steps on my journey to work.”

Rabia Looks to the Future

Rabia joined the GRoW Programme in August 2023 after meeting the GRoW Team at Sheringham Childrens Centre, near her home town of Manor Park in Newham. With her daughter soon to start Nursery, Rabia was looking for an opportunity to take her first steps back to work.

Rabia said; “Being a stay-at-home mum had taken its toll on my confidence but I didn’t want motherhood to hold me back. I wanted to get back out in the world and start to socialise again but was finding it hard to get started. What I quickly realised when I joined the GRoW Programme was that it could offer the support and guidance that I needed. Whilst it was about helping mums think about work, it wasn’t focused on just finding a job –  any job – it was about looking to the future and working towards meaningful work.

The daily activities and discussions in the programme helped open our minds to new possibilities. There was no one to criticise us or say we were wrong. We were encouraged to think freely, explore new ideas, and even take the lead in our own projects. This I think is very unique and it’s what helped to give me the push I needed.

Before I stopped work to have my daughter I had a variety of work experiences. I worked in a tuition academy in Brixton and in Enfield and worked in retail at ASDA, JD Sports and in charity shops so I have a range of skills. I gained qualifications in maths and physics in my home country of Pakistan but I am keen to attain more qualifications in the UK to boost my CV. The GRoW Programme introduced me to opportunities to take online courses which I can learn whilst my daughter is at Nursery. I have enrolled on to a Teaching Assistant course which I am hoping to start in January when a space is available and I am also doing the Multiply course to improve my maths.

As my daughter progresses through to full-time school my plan is to complete the Multiply courses and then pursue a graduate course before enrolling onto a longer-term professional programme.

Being part of the GRoW Community has been a great experience for me.  GRoW has been a really important platform to giving me that gentle nudge to helping me make my dreams a reality and Liz has been so encouraging and motivating and really such a driving force in my journey.”

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.

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.”

Pushpa’s Hospitality Placement Brings Picnic Success

Pushpa joined the GRoW Programme in May 2023, looking for help to begin her journey to work. As a mother to two young children Pushpa wanted a term-time job that enabled her to fit work around her children. She attended the GRoW Preparing to Work in Schools programme at West Drayton Academy in Hillingdon and is currently undertaking a hospitality work placement at Belina GRoW.

Pushpa said: “I first came to GRoW when the team were delivering training at West Drayton Academy in Hillingdon. I was thinking about going back to work but was unsure about how to go about it. I have a Masters Degree in Agriculture from the Department of Agronomy in my home country of India and was originally looking for work related to my qualifications but there are not many opportunities in that field that are local to me. I have two young children and so I need to ensure my work fits around my family which is why I attended GRoW’s Preparing to Work in Schools Programme, to explore the idea of working as a Teaching Assistant. I have volunteered at a Childrens Centre and also worked in customer services with McDonalds and through the GRoW Programme I have attended many courses to improve my employability opportunities such as the CV and Interview Workshops. The GRoW Coffee Mornings have been particularly interesting and I have developed networks with agencies who are helping to support me in looking for local jobs.

I was really pleased when Liz Sewell, Director of the GRoW Programme selected me for a work placement, supporting GRoW with their #SuccessfulSummer23 Event programme. I was given the responsibility of helping to organise the GRoW Picnics, promoting the programme and helping on the hospitality side, arranging the activities for the children, providing refreshments, setting up the event and cleaning up afterwards. It was such a great event and everyone had a good time. We had almost 60 adults and children who came along for a fun day out and to meet the members of the GRoW Team in person. They had the opportunity to talk about any concerns they have as well as future plans and to get together in one place with other members of the GRoW Community to build friendships and networks.  All the women were in similar situations so it was lovely to be able to informally chat and support each other.  I arranged lots of the activities with the children and posted content on the GRoW App to encourage people to attend.  It was great to have so many people there, sharing their stories and experiences about the GRoW Programme. We even had some of GRoW’s former participants in attendance who spoke about how GRoW helped them secure placements in schools and other jobs – it was very motivating and inspiring to hear how much they had grown and achieved.

Being on the Hospitality Work placement has given me more skills and experiences to add to my CV and my aim is to continue to apply for jobs and take advantage of the information that GRoW sends out on the app and the weekly Jobs Bulletins.  Being part of GRoW has really boosted my confidence and having the GRoW App gives me access to a community which is really invaluable. I’m so pleased to be part of it.”

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


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.”


Mihaela seeks growth with GRoW’s support, aims to increase work hours

Mihaela came to the GRoW Programme in May 2022 as she was looking at going back to work after a 5 year break to have her youngest child.  With previous retail experience she found seasonal work as a temporary retail assistant and was offered an extension on her contract to work 8 hours a week.  Mihaela is now looking to increase her hours with GRoW’s support.

Mihaela said; “I was referred to GRoW from my local jobcentre in Hillingdon where I was on the Restart scheme.  As I am quite a shy person my job coach thought I would benefit from GRoW’s approach and understanding in helping mums get back to work and connecting me with other women who are in a similar position to myself.

GRoW have helped me so much by getting me involved in activities and meeting new people.  They have offered me so much support from helping me create a CV to giving me practical advice and tips on interviews.  They’ve also offered a lot of advice on courses too and I am considering enrolling on an ESOL course with Uxbridge College to improve my language and communication.

I worked in retail in Romania before coming to the UK in 2016 and though I did some cleaning work in private homes when I first came here I haven’t worked since having my son 5 years ago.  As I have retail experience I applied for a temporary Christmas job at Primark last November where I was doing 20 hours just for December and have been working there ever since on a part time basis for 8 hours a week.  It’s been great and I really enjoy it but I do need to increase my hours to 25 hours a week and so have been actively looking for opportunities.  I applied for a job in the Cash Office where I work and was offered an interview but I unfortunately didn’t get the job.  Though it was a disappointment I haven’t lost heart as I know other opportunities will come along soon.  I also feel I benefited a lot from the experience as I can put what I have learned into practice for future interviews and I think it will help me know now what to expect.  There were some questions around my accomplishments and team work that I found quite difficult to answer and so I know I need to prepare my answers for these questions should they come up again in the future.

Being part of the GRoW programme has helped me a lot with my confidence and I really feel they support me with everything. The GRoW app is also really useful and I love the things they do like offering motivational prizes and rewards. I look at the app every day, whenever I have spare time and it is something that really motivates me. There is a lot of useful information about childcare and courses and job vacancies too. Even now I just checked the app and saw that Costco have a part time position available which could be good for me to apply for!