Sajada’s Passion for Lifelong Learning

Mother of four Sajada came to GRoW in the Autumn of 2023 after connecting with GRoW Adviser Saeema at a junior school in Hillingdon. With a passion for learning and development, Sajada has engaged fully with the GRoW Programme and is now studying for a Level 2 Teaching Assistant course.

Sajada said “I met Saeema when dropping my youngest son off at his school one morning and she was so positive and encouraging about the GRoW Programme that  I was intrigued to find out more. I am a person who has always been interested in gaining knowledge and furthering my education. I have always believed it is important to keep growing, keep studying, even if you are a busy mum, of course it is difficult to find the time but it is possible always to do something. Back in 2018 I did Employability and ESOL courses at Uxbridge College and more recently at Hillingdon Adult Centre I did my Level 2 Functional Skills Maths and English. I have also done a Safeguarding course and a Level 1 Teaching Assistant Course. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and lockdown I was not able to complete it because I was unable to carry out the mandatory voluntary work placement.

When I met Saeema I was pleased to be offered the opportunity through GRoW to enrol on the next level in my journey to becoming a Teaching Assistant.  I am doing the course online and am really enjoying it. Studying the Level 1 first gave me some really important tools about how to study which has made it easier for me this time around. I have moved house recently which has presented a few challenges for me so being able to do the study fully online is a great help and my tutor is really understanding and supportive.

I moved to the UK from Afghanistan in 2007 where I had been a medical student. I faced the challenge of adapting to a new language and culture and although I knew English, the transition to spoken English was difficult. I married here and had four children and have embraced the opportunity to learn and improve my language skills. It’s especially important as I want to be a Teaching Assistant and good communication is so crucial. Being able to speak the language well and communicate and learn from other teachers and students is a personal goal for me.

Something I feel very passionate about is the importance for mothers to prioritise education, not just for their children but for themselves too. Mothers are educators within their homes and so by constantly learning and gaining more knowledge mothers can better support their children and contribute positively to society. I think it is really important to give back to society and so I fully encourage other mothers to seize opportunities for personal and educational growth.

I have a dream to reach academic achievement, to be wearing the square hat and gown and be standing before my peers, confidently speaking English so I can inspire others too.

Saeema has been a real guiding force behind me, encouraging me all the way to keep motivated and learning. I have attended sessions with GRoW in-person as well as online and they have helped move forward with my dreams and take the opportunities seriously. I am now looking forward to completing my Teaching Assistant course and taking it to the next step of finding work.”

Cristine GRoW’s in Confidence

Cristine came to a GRoW Bootcamp at Minet Junior School in Hillingdon in October 2023. A mother to two young children she was interested in finding out how to start the journey back to work after a 5 year break and is now enrolled on a Teaching Assistant Course and Functional Skills, preparing for her future career.

Cristine said “I first got involved with GRoW at a Coffee Morning Bootcamp at my daughter’s school. I met Saeema, one of the GRoW Advisers, and she was so helpful, explaining different opportunities that were available to me.  I learned about ways I could develop both personally and professionally though training courses and the online sessions GRoW offer as well as the live in-person sessions at their HQ at the Winning Box in Hayes.

The GRoW Bootcamp was a great experience. I have two children, a daughter in Year Four and a son in Year 1 and I didn’t feel that I had very many skills to offer an employer. Through the Bootcamp however, I learned that I have many skills and abilities and that all of the different things you do every day as a mum counts as transferrable skills that can be used in the workplace. This was a real confidence boost for me.

I moved to the UK from India 5 years ago and although I used to work as an Office Assistant previously, I have not worked since coming here and having my family.  I did a Finance diploma in my home country but have not done any training in the UK. I did think about enrolling at college a while ago but I didn’t have the confidence to do it at the time. Joining GRoW has really helped me take that step forward and it is due to the support of the team, especially Saeema who has helped me a lot. She helped me see a way forward that would work for me and it has motivated me to strive towards a goal of becoming a Teaching Assistant which is something I have wanted to do for a long time.

I have now enrolled on the Functional Skills and also the Level 2 Teaching Assistant qualifications, and plan to do the Level 3 as well. I’m really excited to start and finally feel that I am on a journey towards reaching my goal.

Before joining GRoW I had looked at doing some courses but it never quite worked for me, whether it was just my confidence stopping me I’m not sure but I now feel very happy to be doing these courses through GRoW.

Sometimes when you are a just being a mum you can think you can’t do anything else beyond that but Saeema gave me the energy to go forward and that’s now what I am doing. I don’t know where my journey will go exactly but I’m taking the first steps and I have a goal in mind and that makes me happy.

Zamurd Pursues Her Dream Job

Zamurd came to the GRoW Programme in the Summer of 2022 looking for help to pursue her dream of becoming a Teaching Assistant. Having completed some courses already, with GRoW’s help she is now volunteering in a school and has enrolled on a Level 2 Teaching Assistant Course.

Zamurd said “I did a Childcare course at Harlington Adult Learning Centre in Hillingdon, last September, finishing in January this year and I knew that this was the career I wanted to pursue.  I learned about GRoW through my child’s school and decided to go on the programme to see how they could help me and they have been a guiding force in realising my goal.

They recommended I do a Food Hygiene course and a Safeguarding course and also spoke to me about the idea of exploring volunteering opportunities.  This was really important for me as it has enabled me to build experience and knowledge on the job and has made me realise even more that working with children is something I really enjoy.

To secure the volunteering position I approached my child’s school, Grange Park Infants School in Hillingdon, and I met with their Principal and I was so happy when they offered me a placement.  I am now working there as a volunteer and am thoroughly enjoying it.

Being part of GRoW has been really insightful to find out what I need to do be work-ready. Since coming to the UK 15 years ago I have not worked and so I was aware I needed to gain some experience and that this would be really important for my CV.  GRoW recommended I do a Food Hygiene Course and a Safeguarding course as both would be relevant and important to be able to work in a school setting.  They also taught me interview skills which will be so useful when I start applying for jobs.

I have four children, my eldest is 15 and my youngest is 5, and so now is a really good time for me to start thinking about going back to work. Volunteering at the school has been so important to my journey as it has helped me build my confidence.  The school staff have known me for a long time, since my older child was a pupil there, but they only knew me in capacity of a parent. Now they know me in the capacity of a worker and it’s amazing to see how they trust me and value me as a contributor.  It’s a real boost for my confidence and my CV.

Being part of GRoW has been an amazing experience for me and now I am really looking forward to starting the Level 2 Teaching Assistant course to take the next step towards reaching my goal. “

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.

Anitha GRoWs her Career Aspirations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rabia Focuses on Upskilling

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

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

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

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

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

Shakila’s #SuccessfulSummer

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

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

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

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

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