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.”

Rita finds new work in a school

Rita came to GRoW in 2020 looking for a part-time job that would enable her to fit work around her children and is now working in two different schools taking on a variety of roles in a Breakfast Club, After School Club and as a lunchtime SMSA.

Rita said “As a single parent I really wanted to find a job that would enable me to work while my children were at school so that I wouldn’t need to find childminders to take them to school and pick them up.  I found work at a local school supporting children at their Breakfast Club and After School Club but this only amounted to 3 hours a day and I was keen to do more hours.

My GRoW Adviser Khatera really helped me. She did all my paperwork with me and offered me the opportunity to undertake a range of courses.   I was quite interested in doing a Dental Nurse Practitioner Apprenticeship with Uxbridge College that GRoW introduced me to though I unfortunately missed the deadline to enrol.  I was constantly checking the jobs boards and applying for jobs but I didn’t have the necessary qualifications for many of them and was beginning to get quite frustrated as the need to get a job was becoming urgent for me.

Khatera put me in touch with Sonia to carry out a review of my CV and she was also so helpful.  She was really nice and helped me a lot.  The experience was really good for me as she did a great job of updating my CV and I was very happy with the result.

I found a job as an SMSA at a local school on the Crinkle Recruitment website that GRoW told me about that specialises in schools jobs and decided to apply.  I sent them my new CV and after an interview they offered me the job.  It is a part time job at lunchtimes but combined with my Breakfast Club and After School jobs I am now almost working full time hours.  My eldest child is at Secondary School and my younger child is at Primary School but one of the benefits of working at the Breakfast and After School Clubs is that he can come with me and I don’t have to arrange childcare for him.  I also only work during term-time so I don’t have to work during the school holidays.

Working in a school is the best option for me as a single mum but looking to the future I am thinking of doing a course in Learning Support so I can try to increase my hours eventually and increase my pay.”


Helping you to find the right job

GRoW’s Michelle Grenada-Bryan researches and compiles the jobs for our Jobs Bulletin each week, finding the most suitable part-time positions for our GRoW participants that are currently being advertised across Hillingdon and surrounding areas.

Michelle said “With covid-19 restrictions now easing more and more jobs are opening up, as well as more flexible-working opportunities becoming available. Schools jobs In particular are very strong right now due to movement of staff and people leaving posts.  We use a website called Crinkle Recruitment which is dedicated to advertising schools jobs across Hillingdon and the local area.  It’s a great site which is really easy to use and advertises a full range of schools jobs from Learning Support Assistants and Midday Supervisers and even Headteachers.

Cleaning is another area that is attracting lots of attention right now as well as admin jobs.  Whilst admin roles have been frequent, even throughout the pandemic, they have often been full-time positions whereas there are many more part-time jobs available now and those that offer flexible working too.  Having been forced to change the way they work throughout lockdown has led to many employers recognising the benefits of offering flexible, hybrid and remote working.  Flexible working has long been desirable by many, especially working mums, but employers have historically been slow to adopt it.  Over the past two years however employers have experienced it in practice and realised that not only does it offer them opportunities to save on rent costs and office space, staff who work remotely are often more productive too.  As a result, many employers are keeping remote working in place and offering new vacancies as permanently working from home which is great news for working mums.

With the economy opening up we are expecting to see more vacancies opening up in the hospitality sector as well as retail positions so these are two areas to keep a look out for in the coming weeks and months.  I recommend using the Indeed website for your job searching as they offer a broad range of jobs across a host of different sectors.  It is effectively a one stop shop where you can search and get everything you need in one place.  You can also subscribe to alerts if you want to be notified of specific job types, save your search and set up your own account. You can even upload your CV to make it quicker to apply.  Monster and CV Library work in a similar way and offer a good alternative to Indeed.

If you don’t know what sort of job you want then I find a useful trick is to just keep your search as open as possible.  Just search on the words ‘part-time’ or ‘full-time’, whichever you prefer and set your location and the radius – 10 miles or 5 miles if you want to keep it really local.  By keeping your job search wide like this you can see which sectors are recruiting more and you get the full range of jobs that are on offer in your area.

If you need help with your job search remember we run a Job Searching Workshop where we can give you practical advice and tips – you can find details and how to book on the app.  Happy Job Seeking!

Chantelle helps women in Kingston to GRoW

GRoW Adviser Chantelle El-Sawy has been a regular face to our Hillingdon participants for a number of years but is now focusing her efforts on helping women in Kingston fulfil their potential through the GRoW Programme.  Chantelle’s speciality is helping people complete application forms and she is available between 11.00am and 1.00pm every Tuesday for face to face meetings at Kingston Jobcentre at Anstee House Jobcentre Plus, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 1TG.

Chantelle said “For the past few years the GRoW Team have been supporting women in Kingston on their journey to work via our virtual events but now with covid restrictions lifted and everything slowly opening up again it is great to be able to get back out in the real world, helping people face to face.  If you have a child under the age of 12 GRoW are able to help you into work or training, whether you have worked before or not, whether you are single or part of a couple and even if your partner works.  We can also help you if you are already in work but you earn less than £10.85 an hour.  I have a regular spot at the Kingston Jobcentre where I can meet with people who are already on the GRoW Programme and also new people who are interested in joining.  We discuss your issues and plans for the future and see how we can best support you.  You don’t need to pre-book, you can just drop in and there is no need to bring anything along – just bring yourself and even a friend or colleague if you feel they could benefit from our help too!

As well as helping you into work I am able to help you with other issues such as filling in forms, for example Universal Credit, Warm Home Discount Applications or Discretionary Housing Payments.  I also run GRoW’s SEN session for parents who have children with special educational needs so can offer support in this area too, with local advice around SEN service and I can help you complete benefits forms such as Disability Living Allowance or Carers Allowance.

GRoW have a range of events and workshops that we run and coming along to see me at the Jobcentre offers a great opportunity to learn about these events and which ones would be most suitable for you to come along to.

So if you want to know more about what we can do to help you or you want to introduce a friend to GRoW, do come down to Kingston jobcentre and say hello!

Mojisola Continues to GRoW through learning and development

Mojisola joined the GRoW Programme in Summer 2021 and has been an active and fully engaged participant, making use of all the learning opportunities available.

She has completed a range of courses and recently found work in a seasonal position at the Royal Mail.  Mojisola is now studying for a Level 3 Helping in School and Colleges Course through WEA.

Mojisola said “I had already completed a Level 2 Helping in Schools and Colleges course before I joined GRoW and it really inspired me to move on and do the Level 3.  I felt it was really important to get the main qualification if I am serious about finding my dream job of becoming a Teaching Assistant.

Working in a school is really important to me as I have young children and I want to be able to work when they at school and have the holidays to spend time with them.  Everything I am doing now is to help me reach that goal.  Since joining GRoW I have undertaken a Food Safety and Hygiene Course and a Level 1 Safeguarding course and since May 2021 I have been working on a voluntary basis in a local school which is not only great experience but is also a requirement of my Level 3 course to do a placement.  I work with Year 5 children, supporting them with their maths, spelling and writing and also supervising them at lunchtimes.  I really enjoy it.

Now I have finished the job at Royal Mail I am really keen to find another job but I need to ensure it does not affect my studies.  I do my study work twice a week and my placement twice a week so I need to find a part time job which is evenings only.

The level 3 course is all online and we work as a collective group completing tasks.  We also have a Whatsapp group which is a great support as it enables students to speak to each other if we need help or additional materials.  It is really interesting and something I have always wanted to do.

The GRoW Team are so encouraging.  They have helped me see what I need to do to get where I want to be.  Even though I can apply for a job today that will help my financial position they have enabled me to understand that I need to build my knowledge and skills with new learning and training if I want to progress and get somewhere.  I am happy now to do any job in order to boost my finances but my studies are more important and I need to find work that fits in with that so that I am in a better position in the future.  GRoW have helped me see that you sometimes have to sacrifice something to get where you want to be in the future.

I really appreciate everything GRoW are doing for me and for all the other women they support.  They do everything they can to make sure you don’t give up.  They check on you to make sure you are ok and are getting the support you need.  Mostly, they take your fear away from you to do better and are so supportive and motivating.”

Mothers face additional barriers to work during the Pandemic – but the GRoW programme can help

Liz Sewell, Director of the Get Ready for Work – GRoW- programme run by Belina Consulting

Finding a job is like buying a house, or having a baby, something that you don’t do all the time and that benefits from having expert help. The side effects of the Pandemic, like the closure of schools and the move to home educating, saw more mothers put their careers on hold and studies carried out during lockdown showed that working mothers were interrupted more often than fathers.  But women want to work, in fact even though we work with women who face additional barriers to work our own conversations have shown us that over half want to go back to work even more now than they did in March when lockdown started. And whilst getting children back to school has to be the priority for government, schools, families and employers, we have identified four areas where we can offer help.

More online Training

Home schooling has meant that many women now feel much more confident about online and blended learning so we have developed a digital training programme that works through partnerships with our local Colleges, an excellent ESOL provider Daily Steps and using the smart phone friendly courses provided by Digital College.

More part time work

Our weekly jobs bulletin provides access to part time work and helps people find the sort of jobs that allow them to work the hours that suit their families.

Upgrading Employability skills

At GRoW we have got an Autumn Schedule of activities that range from making your first CV to getting a Christmas job. Our programme goes out in our weekly newsletter sent to all members of the GRoW programme.

  • Need to improve your confidence, motivation and make your action plan – you need the GRoW programme
  • Want to upgrade your CV or Interview Skills –  our Wednesday Zoom and Noon sessions are for you
  • Want a weekly boost to your employment join our Friday Coffee mornings with speakers, and How to sessions will provide a great start to your weekend.

Better access to safe affordable high quality childcare

In our survey 100 women speak the  lack childcare was the biggest problem facing mothers prevents many from seeking better paid roles and blocks in-work progression. For lone parents it is an even bigger problem.  In a recent survey Gingerbread found that 41% of single parents struggle to afford childcare, compared with 14% of parents in couples. We are providing advice on spaces, funding and benefits.

If you are already part of the GRoW programme we are really excited to welcome you back. If you want to find our more about joining us and you are an unemployed or inactive mother and live in London contact us here.