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.

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.”

GRoW Newham Graduate Shameela to Participate in GRoW Work Placement Programme

GRoW are delighted to announce that Shameela, a recent graduate of the GRoW Newham Programme held at Altmore Children’s Centre, will be participating in a work placement with GRoW during July and August. As part of the placement, she will be completing a food and hygiene course and focusing on hospitality.

Shameela, who has two children and has previously been a stay-at-home mum, was inspired by the GRoW programme to pursue her interests in working with children and with the support of the work placement, she hopes to gain valuable work experience and boost her CV.

Shameela said; “Being part of the GRoW Programme at Altmore Children’s Centre has been a fantastic experience for me. I haven’t worked before and for the past 19 years, I’ve been a stay-at-home mum. Now my two children are older I was feeling I was wasting my time with the every routine of housework and I needed something for myself and the chance to get out and meet people and also contribute to the household finances. When my sister introduced me to the GRoW Programme, explaining that it is designed to help mums get back to work, I thought I would give it a try.  I attended every session and found it so interesting and impactful and it made me really think about the type of work I would like to do.

I like being around children and I have lots of experience of working with children as I have also looked after my sister’s, as well as my own. My aim is to work in a school, assisting the teachers or working in the kitchen. I really enjoy cooking and it is something I am good at. GRoW have enrolled me on to a Food and Hygiene course, which I am halfway through and really enjoying.

My aim is to start a job that offers me a few hours each day, maybe as a Midday Supervisor, and then progress into different roles that allow me to extend the hours I work. Sheeja at GRoW helped to produce a CV with me which is great but as I have not had a job before I need to do more so that I can add more skills and experience to it. The Food & Hygiene course is a great start and I am also enrolled on the new Customer Services training course with Audrey Bodman which GRoW are providing. Audrey is a great trainer and I learned so much from the first session about good customer service and how to treat customers well. She explains everything so well and I’m really looking forward to the next session.

I was so pleased when GRoW offered me the chance of a work placement. As part of the placement I will be organising a picnic event on August 10th near Newham College. It will be great experience for me and an opportunity to add some more skills and experience to my CV. “

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.”


Sara Raises Confidence and Gets a Sales Job

Sara came to GRoW for help to find a job after being out of work for 7 years and having a young family. She was lacking in confidence but has found support from the GRoW Team and has now accepted a new job working in retail.

Sara said “I heard about GRoW through my local Community Centre where I used to take my daughter.  I had worked in retail before I moved to the UK but I hadn’t worked in 7 years and it was affecting my confidence.  I felt like I was lost and didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know how to apply for a job and I didn’t have the confidence to start, I just needed some help and support, which was exactly what I found at GRoW.

Saeema was my adviser and she invited to attend the GRoW Coffee Morning where I can learn about other ladies on the programme which was a great place to start. It was a supportive place and every week I learned something different.  I went on to the CV Workshop and Interview Workshop with Sonia and Sheeja and that was amazing.  My CV had been really poor before and it was quite a worry for me.  Sonia and Sheeja helped me produce a new CV which was so good and the experience of going through the interview workshop was so valuable, it really raised my confidence so that when I did apply for a job and was granted an interview I approached it in a way I never thought possible.  I found the job on Indeed for a Sales job for a retail company and have just accepted the offer to start next week.

I am very grateful to the GRoW Team for helping to support me and build my confidence.  All of the workshops I attended and the GRoW app too were so valuable. The app kept me updated with news and events and the daily lessons and motivators really helped drive me forward.  I am now looking forward to starting my new career.

Uzma finds a School Job

After recolating to London from India in 2022 Uzma enrolled in GRoW’s ‘Preparing to Work in Schools’ programme and has now found a part-time job with an agency Zen Educate working with primary school children with a focus on additional needs. She is also exploring voluntary opportunities to boost her learning and skills.

Uzma said; “I feel blessed to have been part of the GRoW programme in London since September this year. When the GRoW Team visited my daughter’s school to introduce parents to their programme I was immediately interested in what they had to offer.  Having only been in the UK for 6 months I was finding it a bit of a struggle at times and wanted to feel I was moving forward.  I needed opportunities to meet other people and feel I was getting somewhere. What I found at GRoW was a unique opportunity to connect with other like-minded people and a welcome community of women who were ready and willing to support each other and strive to do well.

Even though I have worked as a Primary School Teacher, Social Worker and School Administrator in the Middle East and India and have a Bachelor and Masters Degree my qualifications are unfortunately not recognised in the UK so when I joined the Preparing to Work in Schools programme I was feeling a bit down and worried about my future prospects. Kaneez really helped me through it and advised me to start slowly, take small steps and build up, which I thought was good advice.  Sonia was also fantastic and I am so grateful for her help in boosting my confidence and spurring me on, as too did Mercedes who had many words of valuable advice for me to learn from.  Sonia suggested I do some voluntary work to boost my skills and CV and so I applied to Learn Hillingdon and I have an interview for a voluntary position in April which I am looking forward to.

The Preparing to Work in Schools programme was really valuable and after completing it I applied to a local education charity and they have offered me a part-time position working with primary school-aged children in and around the borough of Hillingdon. This is a great start for me as I can only work part-time at the moment as I also have a 3 year-old son who is not yet in school full time.  Combining work with the charity and hopefully the voluntary position too will build my reputation and skills here in the UK and I can then work towards a higher position within the teaching profession in the future.

I am so grateful to GRoW for the opportunities they have given me. For someone who is quite new to this country being part of the programme has been so beneficial, even the weekly coffee mornings which I often attend in person, are really valuable. They are so joyful and give you the chance to meet people from so many different backgrounds and the speakers from local groups and organisations that join the sessions are always so informative – it’s a great opportunity for networking and I love how I became part of the team. I am now looking forward to my new job and to the future.”

Robini Achieves Dream Job as School Teaching Assistant

Robini had not worked for 6 years after leaving her job as a client relationship manager in India when she was expecting her first child. After moving to the UK she became a mum to two young children and came to GRoW looking for help on her journey back to work. Robini has now been offered a job as a Teaching Assistant and is looking forward to starting a new career working with children with special educational needs.

Robini said; “I first heard about GRoW through a friend who explained that they had a special programme that helps mums get back to work. At the time my youngest son was only two years old and I was a very busy mum trying to juggle everything. It was difficult to find the time to really focus on getting a job but I knew I needed to start thinking about it.  I got in touch with Kaneez at GRoW and she invited me to a Coffee Morning which was a great introduction.

What I really liked about GRoW was that it never felt like they were pressurising me.  I was invited to events and if I was able to go then I would. If I wasn’t able to join one day then I could join another day.  It felt really relaxed and as it fitted in with my life it was easy to engage with.

I already knew that I wanted to work in a school and had undertaken a range of training courses including: working with Syrian refugees; Early Years Foundation for Childhood; Safeguarding 2; Safeguarding 3 and a Level 3 ESOL.  I had also been volunteering at a local church helping to teach children at Sunday School.  I had the courses and the volunteering behind me but no relevant work experience and had no idea what I needed to do next to reach my goal.

It was during one of the GRoW Coffee Mornings that things really clicked for me.  They had invited a guest speaker from a local school along to talk about how they began their teaching career. The speaker explained that they had no previous experience when they started working in their profession but had managed to work their way up from a School Meals Supervisor position.  It was so insightful and encouraging to see that it was possible and it gave me the motivation I needed to get started.

I went on to Sonia’s CV and Interview Workshop and with Tosin’s (my Adviser) help I started applying for jobs, she was very supportive. Sonia also gave me a huge amount of help and even worked with me once on a Sunday to do a mock interview, explaining how to present myself and giving me points to practice. I really can’t overstate the difference it made as when I was offered the opportunity to attend an interview I put all of the training I’d learned into practice and I cracked it first time!

Even though GRoW gave me new tools to put into practice the biggest thing they did for me was give me belief in myself. They are fantastic at guiding women as they understand what support we need. They never pressurise, they give you space to work things out for yourself and guide you on your chosen path.  I feel very proud now to have been offered the job as a Teaching Assistant and I can’t wait to start my new career.”

Raisa Finds Her Way: From No Job Experience to Job-Ready!

Raisa came to GRoW at the beginning of 2023 after a GRoW advert sparked her interest in getting a job in a school. With no previous work experience Raisa was apprehensive about her prospects but is now confident about her future and on the way to achieving her goal.

Raisa said; “I have always wanted to work with children but I have not had a job before or had any work or voluntary experience and had no idea how to even start looking for a job.  When I saw the GRoW leaflet explaining they had a programme to help mums get work in schools it was something I was really interested in doing. The fact that the leaflet was in my son’s school bag also made me feel more reassured that it was a programme that I could trust.  If it hadn’t been for that link with the school I don’t think I would ever have signed up!

The GRoW Preparing to Work in Schools Programme took place at the Sheringham Childrens Centre in Newham and it consisted of 4 separate face-to-face sessions.  I attended every session and found it so helpful.  I learned so many new things such as what I needed to do to get work and which courses I should do.  I have a Masters Degree in Computer Science that I gained in India but working in a company isn’t something I want to do and what I learned on the GRoW Programme is that if I want a job in a school then I need some relevant work experience, even if it is just on a voluntary basis.

I have looked at different types of school jobs and was at first thinking of pursuing a career as a Teaching Assistant but as I have two young boys I can’t work full-time yet and so have set my sights on SMSA roles for now.  GRoW enrolled me onto an online Safeguarding course which I am doing at the moment and when I finish I am going to do a Food and Hygiene course which will be really useful if I ever want to get a job as an SMSA Supervisor.

As I had never even looked for a job before I went to the GRoW Job Searching Workshop where Sonia introduced me to all the different job websites I could go on.  I also did a CV Workshop with Sheeja and have created my first ever CV which was an interesting process!  I never realised that the work I do with my children such as helping with homework or teaching English and Maths in preparation for my older son’s 11+ is something I could include in a CV as transferrable skills. It made me realise all the different things I do and what skills I already possess.

The GRoW app has been a fantastic resource for me.  We only did 4 in-person events on the Schools programme but the GRoW app keeps everyone connected so after the events we have been able to stay in touch through messaging on the app.  There is so much on there, daily lessons, jobs bulletins and upcoming events. All of the information is really useful and you can look at it in your own time – I usually scroll through it in the evenings when my boys are in bed.  I can see what is coming up the next day and it helps me prepare.

All the members of the GRoW team are so helpful, always supporting and encouraging me and I feel much more confident now in my abilities, Before coming to GRoW I didn’t know how to start, where to go to look, or what I needed to do. I have started looking regularly for jobs now and I think I have got a lot better at applications.  I really feel that I am halfway there now to achieving my goals and it’s all thanks to GRoW.


Sajida Lands a School SMSA Job

Sajada came to GRoW in February 2023 looking for assistance in finding a part-time job that would fit around her two young children.  She found inspiration at our Preparing to Work in Schools Workshop and has now been offered a job in a school as a School Meals Supervisory Assistant.

Sajada said; “I am an experienced and fully trained hairdresser but the Hairdressing Salons I was enquiring about jobs at were only offering full-time and weekend-working positions which are not convenient for me due to having young children to look after.  I knew I needed a part-time job and was looking for jobs all the time but it was hard to find something suitable with the right hours and flexibility.

A friend told me about GRoW and I went along to the GRoW HQ in Hillingdon where I met Khatera, who became my Adviser, and told her what I needed help with.  Khatera’s first step was to get me started on the GRoW app which opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me.

The GRoW app gave me so many ideas of what I could do and how to start my journey into work.  There were events I could book myself on to such as the CV and Interview Workshops and One to Ones as well as weekly Coffee Mornings.  I immediately booked myself on to everything available and from that point on I felt I was part of a community.  The Coffee Mornings are fantastic, every week there is a different guest speaker from a local organisation talking about a range of things such as different job opportunities and how to get work in different sectors.  I always made sure to attend these events because they offer such a wealth of knowledge as well as an opportunity to meet with other women on the programme and share experiences.

At an Interview One to One with GRoW’s Sonia Puri she suggested I look into school jobs as an option as she felt it would be a good move for me due to the term-time working hours that schools offer.  It wasn’t something I had thought about before and I had no idea where to look for school jobs as they had never come up in any of my previous job searches.  I went back to Khatera for help and she enrolled me onto GRoW’s Preparing to Work in School Workshop.  It was a great opportunity to find out what I needed to know about getting a job in a school.  Khatera then supported me in registering on to a dedicated schools job site called Crinkle which had lots of school jobs vacancies in my area and I applied for quite a few SMSA positions.  When I went along to the GRoW Coffee Morning that week I was thrilled to see that a representative from the Eden Academy, a school I had applied to earlier that week, was speaking and so I asked Khatera to mention my application and I was really pleased to receive an email a few days later offering me an interview.

To help me prepare, Sonia did a last minute practice interview with me the day before and we ran through a few scenarios that were likely to come up, including issues such as safeguarding.  This was so beneficial as when I went along to the interview I felt very confident, well-prepared and ready to answer any questions.  I put all the techniques I’d learned into practice and I obviously did a good job because I was offered the job!

Being on the GRoW Programme has been life-changing for me.  As a mother and wife we know lots of things and do lots of things but we often lack inspiration and the support to say ‘yes I can do that’. The encouragement and inspiration I’ve received from all the other ladies on the programme was fantastic; it taught me to believe in myself and to do what I want to do.

The GRoW app is also such a great tool to have, there is information for you to see from morning until night and it is all so useful!  When you are a mum and are in the home you are busy working all the time and can be oblivious to what is going on outside. The GRoW app connects you to everything that is happening around you and lets you see what is going on. The events are brilliant and through the GRoW app you can join what you want, when you want, really easily. I have been to so many GRoW events and wish I had the time to go to all of them as you take away so much knowledge from each one.  On the app you also get inspirational and motivational messages that put you in good spirits for the day. I often spend time in the evenings reading the articles and commenting on people’s posts and it feels very much like a community.

I start my new job in April and will be working Monday to Friday 11.30am until 2.00pm and I also plan to continue with my hairdressing part-time which fits in perfectly around my family. I’m really grateful to GRoW for all their help and especially for giving me back my self-belief.”