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.

Ebony GRoWs for a better future

Ebony joined the GRoW Programme after being given a leaflet from her Jobcentre that explained that GRoW helps mums get back to work. She had been out of work for 5 years to raise her youngest son and was looking at rejoining the workforce. Ebony has engaged with everything GRoW has offered her and is always looking to learn and do more.

Ebony said “I knew I needed to get back to work but I wasn’t sure where to start and how to approach it.  When I joined GRoW I did the GRoW Your Own Business Sessions which was so inspiring.  I had been thinking of setting up my own business making or white labelling and selling candles and when I went on GYOB it helped me learn about all the things I would need to do if I was to be self employed.  Mostly I learned how important it is to make realistic plans and set small goals to give yourself time to achieve each thing before moving on to the next.  It made me realise that I had a lot of thinking to do, in particular with regard to finances, before taking the plunge to do it. It hasn’t put me off though, far from it! Instead I am thinking about it realistically and plan to do re-do GYOB when I am in a better position to move forward with it.

As well as GYOB I did the GRoW Bootcamp which was absolutely fantastic because it helped to build my confidence which was something I was really struggling with – in fact I still do, but nowhere near as much.

I did the CV and Interview Workshops which really helped me to understand the skills I have and what jobs I can do. I started applying for jobs as soon as my CV was ready and I have been overwhelmed by the number of interviews I have been getting.  I have attended interviews for all different types of jobs. I had an interview at the Airport, as well as a Kitchen Porter job at a restaurant, at a Travelodge and also for an admin assistant job. All were really interesting and I have been offered jobs following the interviews but unfortunately the hours don’t suit my family commitments. It hasn’t been a waste of time though as I have gained a lot of practical interview experience and a new found confidence which has come from being better prepared and better informed.

I am now doing a Level 3 ABM Teaching Assistant Course that grow introduced me to as I want to improve my chances of getting a job in a school.  School jobs would be really well suited to me because I can work term time only which is better for my family.  The training course takes 9 months to complete and I have to do some volunteering in a school setting as part of the training.  I love doing the course and am finding it so enjoyable.  I have already made an application to a school to do the volunteering and am just waiting to hear back from them.

Being part of GRoW I have come to learn that everything is possible and I don’t need everything right now.  It allowed me to put things in perspective and to just breathe… Mostly it has made me feel like everything is going to be OK and that as long as I take one step at a time and put one foot in front of the other, that I will get there!

The main things I feel I have gained from being part of GRoW is confidence and security.  I have learned that it is not the end of the world if something doesn’t happen within your exact timeframes and I now feel very positive about the future as I just feel everything is going to be OK.  The GRoW team members are so upbeat and supportive and they really make a difference to how you feel.  For example, they post motivational and inspirational messages on their app which help you change your mood and perspective, particularly if you’re having a bad day.  If you’re feeling low it really raises your spirits to read something so uplifting.  At their events they are so motivated and their attitude is contagious, you can’t help but feel more upbeat and motivated yourself.  They always seem to be doing the right thing at the right time too, almost as if they are in sync with how you are feeling and thinking.  It’s things like this that make so much difference and really spur you on to move forward.”

Meet Sonia Puri, GRoW Programme Employability Lead

Sonia Puri | GRoW Programme Employability Lead

What do you most love about your job?

Helping people and supporting people – I love it!  Seeing people progress on their journeys is a real joy to me.  I have people come to me to do the CV workshops looking for support to improve their CVs but I often continue to provide support long after that, working with their Advisers to try to help participants who are getting closer to employment.  Together we will work to come up with other ideas and suggestions and set objectives for them.  As I am not an Adviser I can have a different relationship with the participant where I can perhaps challenge them a little bit more.  This is where my skills and experience from Maximus comes in.  Providing the right amount of support with the right amount of pressure that challenges them to progress is very much the key to success.

Another thing I really love about my job is doing Interview one-to-ones because you can see someone literally transform from being anxious to being confident right in front of your eyes. I wish there was more time in the day so I could do more! I try to keep people motivated and also try to accommodate people to ensure they are as comfortable and relaxed as possible when they do their mock interviews with me, even if that sometimes means an 8pm Zoom call when the participant’s children are safely put to bed.

What are the key strengths you bring to your job?

Since attaining my Business and Human Resources degree in 2004 my career has always been focused on supporting people. After graduating, I started off as a Recruitment Consultant for Hays Recruitment then moved into a HR and In-house recruitment role for UPS. I have also worked for Maximus as a Lead Employability Consultant, responsible for a team of 8. I have been writing CVs and providing career consulting for over 15 years and have worked in various sectors including retail, travel and banking. My work history combined with life experience has given me the ability to work with people of all ages and of all backgrounds; successfully building positive relationships through trust, understanding and working together to help the individual progress. I use my communicative and personable approach to provide the right feedback to participants, ensuring that it is constructive and useful; to make them feel empowered rather than criticised. Helping them to improve and do well is really important to me.  I also think that my experience and skills help me bring new ideas to the team which we can quickly put into practice with our existing and new participants.

How did you come to be working with GRoW?

I saw an advert on an online Jobs Board for a vacancy for the position highlighting that it offered flexible working from home options.  At the time I was working in Retail at the weekends, but I was looking for more hours with some flexibility and, as I had previously worked in the employability sector, it sounded really interesting.  I applied, received a call back within the hour, went through the job application process, had an online interview with Liz and Tosin from the GRoW Team and the rest, as they say, is history!

What is the main difference you feel you make?

Bringing my experience and understanding of recruitment from both an employer’s perspective and a candidate’s perspective. I have hired people and I’ve been a recruiter and bringing those skills to the job is something I do feel really makes a difference as I can give candidates good advice about what an employer is really looking for.

What is your number one piece of advice for jobseekers?

To keep going, keep taking those small steps and you will in time, and at the right time, achieve your goal!



Nusrat grows through GRoW

Nusrat came to GRoW looking to find work now that her children are starting full time education. Through GRoW she is finding a support network that is boosting her confidence and helping her move more quickly to achieving her goals.

Nusrat said “When I came to GRoW I was immediately introduced to the weekly Coffee Mornings and it was a fantastic introduction to what GRoW has to offer.  Just having the opportunity to get together with other women like myself, mostly who have children and are looking to find a job having no work experience or being out of work for a long time.  It was great to be able to interact with other people and have a platform where you can talk and express yourself.  Being a housewife I have not had an opportunity like this before to just meet with other ladies and talk about things I can be doing for myself to achieve more.  It was so nice to feel part of something, meet different people with different perspectives and outlooks and I really look forward to going at the end of the week.

Now my children are starting full time education I am really interested in getting a job in a school.  GRoW have their own app where you can find out everything that is happening and I found out they are running a ‘Preparing to work in schools’ programme in September which I have booked myself on to.  The app is so good, it has everything on there that GRoW are running, such as their cv and interview workshops.  I saw they were running some summer picnics in the park and I have been along to them both. At first I felt a bit nervous but in no time at all I had made new friends and got to know so many more people.  I felt like I could be really open with everyone and it was lovely to be part of something like that in a fun environment.

The other thing I really like about the GroW app is the way it makes you feel.  GRoW send out quotes that I find really motivational, they make you feel good about yourself and it gives me an energy that things can really happen for me.  I think that’s what GRoW does best – encouraging you to take part in things that make you feel better about yourself and motivated to achieve more.  I really feel since starting GRoW that I am growing in myself and I can follow my dreams.  Though I haven’t worked before I have done some volunteering at a children’s centre and I know that working with children is what I want to do. Bringing up my own children and carrying out family duties has given me a lot of experience and GRoW help me see that I have skills I can bring to the workplace.

I really appreciate everything GRoW are doing, giving hope to parents that something good can happen for them, giving them confidence to get out there and talk to people.  It has made really happy and I love being part of it.

Noreen Nails a Job as a Nursery Assistant

Noreen joined the GRoW Programme over a year ago following the loss of her job and despite losing another job due to the pandemic, she has strived to boost her skills and confidence and has now landed a new job as a Nursery Assistant.

Noreen said “I first met the GRoW Team Advisers at a Jobs Fair where GRoW were exhibiting.  Straight away they put me at ease and were so kind and understanding.  I was feeling very low after losing my job and my confidence had taken a dive.  Liz, Tosin and Saeema supported me so much during this time, keeping my spirits up and helping me to believe in myself.  I took part in the GRoW Programme and it really helped me with my confidence.

I got a job in a local school in March 2020 but just a few weeks later we went into lockdown and because I didn’t have a permanent position I lost my job again.  I was so upset but the GRoW Advisers helped me. Saeema really listened to me and gave me so much strength, she wouldn’t let me give up. It is due to all of their support that I am where I am today, starting a new job this week with so much to look forward to.

Saeema kept me informed of training courses I could undertake to increase my knowledge and skills and I completed eight training courses, 3 online and the others at Uxbridge College.  I built my skills up in so many areas including Customer Service, Food Hygiene, Teaching Assistant, Stress Management and Employability and I also did a Parent Champion course.  Having been out of work for a long time I felt I was forgetting things and it was affecting my confidence.  Doing these courses helped so much because it made me feel I had something to offer and was in with a chance of getting another job.

Sonia helped me with my CV, reminding me of all the things I had achieved and I recently got in touch with my former manager at the Nursery I worked at in March to let them know of my new skills and to tell them I was still available.  I was so pleased when they said they wanted me to come back after the Easter holidays to work as a Nursery Assistant.  I love working with children and am so happy to be starting back with them again, working 3 days a week.

I really want to thank all the members of the GRoW Team.  They have always been so supportive, helping me every step of the way.  I will be recommending the GRoW Programme to everyone. It has helped to increase my confidence and helped me with getting my job.  What I have found from doing the programme is that you have something to learn from everyone you meet, every single person has an impact and it has been so helpful for me.

Duvall finds a new job through GRoW’s Jobs Bulletin

Duvall was referred to the GRoW Programme through the Family Case Worker at her children’s school and starts a new job next month.

Duvall said “I really needed to find work after my personal circumstances changed quite suddenly.  Margaret, the Family Case Worker at Cranford Park Academy recommended I speak to the people at GRoW and I was put in touch with Tosin as my GRoW Adviser.

I had been out of work since February after I had to leave my job at Heathrow where I had worked for 8 years.  As my job entailed a lot of contact with customers and handling cash I felt it was too high risk to continue as my mum and stepdad are in a vulnerable group and I could not risk exposing them to the coronavirus.

Tosin was very helpful with regards to the type of jobs that are available now during the pandemic and really helped to manage my expectations. I was looking to do something different to what I was doing before, I worked shifts with very early starts and I had to rely on my mum to help me a lot with my children.  My mum is moving home soon though which means I will have less support and so I needed to find a job with hours that fit around my children. I have experience in customer service and I also did a 4 year course in Health and Social Care which boosts my cv.  I hadn’t considered working in a school before but Tosin opened my eyes up to the opportunities it presents, particularly as it means working term-time only and fitting around my children.

I applied for a job that I saw in the GRoW Newsletter and Jobs Bulletin, it was for a Lunchtime Controller at a local primary school.  I filled in their application form online and they contacted me soon afterwards and they have given me a start date of November.  The job entails helping to assist the children at lunchtimes and helping them follow the guidelines due to the new covid-19 restrictions.

I am hoping that now I am already working there that new opportunities might arise to increase my hours and expand my job role.  I will continue to check out the GRoW Jobs Bulletin every week though to see what other jobs are out there for me to apply for.”

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.

Belina Get Ready for Work join IEP as Corporate Affiliate Partners

Belina Get Ready for Work are delighted to announce that we have joined the Institute of Employability Professionals as Corporate Affiliate Partners.

The IEP is the membership body for employability professionals. They are dedicated to supporting the people who support others gain work, progress in work and retain work.  IEP’s vision is ‘Employability professionals everywhere are the best they can be’ and their purpose is to empower individuals to perform to a professional standard, champion employability as a recognised profession, secure employer recognition and create a network of opportunity.

Belina Get Ready for Work is an award-winning Training & Development organisation running intensive confidence-building, motivation and employability programmes for women, their advisers and employers. They work across London on programmes for the DWP, EFSA, Community Fund and the MOJ. Belina run end to end programmes and offer specialist interventions, on their main employability programme and their retention rate at 26 weeks employment is 90%.

Partnership is at the heart of Belina’s approach, believing that it is by working together that they best support their participants. Their partnership with Canning Town Job Centre Plus has just been rewarded with a 2020 ERSA National Employability Award.

Speaking of joining the IEP, Belina Director Liz Sewell FIEP said; “As a Fellow of the IEP I get so much from being part of the IEP, I wanted my team to have that too – access to training, ideas and networks and more. During lockdown the IEP has offered individuals the chance to be part of the national debate and my team have lots to say and learn from that.”

“Belina’s vision is for a world where women feel confident about going back to work and realise the benefit to themselves and their children for the long term. Our innovative approach, as evidenced in our acclaimed GRoW Programme, is forged in mutual-respect and engagement and brings diverse communities together to nurture, learn from and support each other to help them determine their own lives and empower them to make a positive change.”

Belina are passionate about making women of all backgrounds and circumstances feel valued and resilient, and to help them use their transferrable skills to return to work. They help them realise the value of the skills they’ve gained as parents and show them how those skills can translate into a meaningful long-term career.

Belina’s experienced team work closely with women to build their confidence and raise their aspirations so they can consider a life beyond day-to-day survival. They help identify what they really enjoy about their current lives and what they want to change; challenge their perceptions of the barriers they face and encourage them to embark on a new and positive journey, taking small steps to improve their lives and think about what they want to achieve. 9 of Belina’s 11 staff came through their GRoW programme and have the same lived experience as the people they support – women with complex barriers to work.

Since 2004 Belina have helped improve the employability, skills and prospects of thousands of women, offering an open service to all and providing tailored support to address people’s specific needs.

They currently have active programmes supporting women in Hillingdon, Newham, Islington and Croydon and have created partnerships with Local Government, Housing Associations, Family Information Services, Child Poverty Teams, Employability Services, DWP, Children’s Centres, Charities, local schools, Job Centre Plus and agencies and organisations including London Development Agency, Uxbridge College, Gingerbread, Paddington Development Trust and Outreach Services to help our participants access support from the wider community.

Belina offer a range of support and run regular events with their partners and participants offering advice around issues such as Universal Credit and to develop skills and education through courses such as ESOL, retail, employability, leadership skills and IT. They also engage with employers to help their participants gain practical advice about what is available in the workplace.

A new approach – one to one meeting with local employment agencies

Tosin joined the GRoW Team in March this year as our Employment First Worker, providing support to the women who have been through the GRoW programme and are actively looking for work. 

Tosin said “In my role as Employment First Keyworker my main role is helping women get back to work by helping to complete application forms, carry out mock interviews with them and help build their confidence to find work but I also see them regaining their self-worth and it couldn’t be more rewarding.

I wanted to develop a new way of energising the people I support and so I decided that I would accompany the ladies out into the world of employment, visiting recruitment and employment agencies with them.  It pleased me very much that they found it very helpful – even though they felt nervous and anxious, they went with their heads held high!

One client, Lina was nervous but as soon as we walked into the first Recruitment Agency and we introduced ourselves she started to feel at ease. Lina felt that the Deputy Manager there was very thorough and friendly and was able to give good advice.  After leaving the office, Lina was feeling more confident and motivated to go on to other recruitment agencies. Even though she felt slightly anxious with a few agencies due to their fast pace, it didn’t stop her from introducing herself with a smile on her face.

Lina said that she would recommend the experience to other ladies on the Grow Programme as it would help build their confidence and self esteem, give them more social awareness and a chance of securing a job as the end result!