Sarah had prioritised her young family for 11 years, and as a single parent, she wasn’t left with any other choice. Even though bringing up children is in itself a real full time job, Sarah felt that she was letting everyone down as she was having to claim benefits. As a result of this, she had lost her confidence and had developed severe anxiety and depression.
When Mel, our adult mentor, first met Sarah she was really struggling to go out of her house due to the level of anxiety she was suffering with. Over a period of time, Mel worked with Sarah to take small but significant steps towards rebuilding her confidence. She began taking part in accredited training courses and they continued to meet on a regular basis and started to job search.
Over the period of around 12 months, Sarah continued to take part in training courses and also volunteered at the local foodbank. The volunteering and training had a massive impact on Sarah’s confidence and the employers that we were applying for jobs with began to notice Sarah’s new CV with the up to date training courses and practical work experience that she was gaining through her weekly volunteering sessions, and she began to get interviews. However the road wasn’t a smooth one - she had so many knock backs.
One example was when she had been shortlisted for interview with Premier Inn. After the interview, Sarah was so positive, she felt that she had a really good chance of getting a job with them. She was invited for a second interview and her hopes were really high. After the second interview, Sarah was told that she was being put on the reserve list, and that unfortunately, she wasn’t going to get a job with them unless someone else dropped out. This was quite devastating for Sarah, and she took it quite personally. However, through her volunteering, regular meetings and training courses, she became more confident and resilient, and the job applications continued whilst Mel ensured that Sarah stayed positive.
ASDA put out an advert, looking for someone for 16 hours a week. The position was local and seemed perfect. Mel helped Sarah apply for the post, and the following week Sarah was invited for interview. Prior to the interview, Mel went over possible interview questions and scenarios until Sarah felt prepared. On the day of the interview, all dressed up and feeling positive, Sarah arrived with nothing to lose, throwing herself enthusiastically into the group interview tasks.
The interview went well and at the end of the day Sarah felt satisfied that she had done her best. A week later an email arrived, offering her a job! This was such wonderful news however, the hours she had been offered were all evenings, from 4pm until 10pm. As a single parent, she felt that this wasn’t going to be doable. Mel advised Sarah to call ASDA and explain the situation. Sarah did indeed call ASDA to explain, and they were able to amend the hours she had been offered resulting in a 17 hour contract between the hours of 12.30pm and 4pm.
The difference this has made to Sarah’s life is difficult to put into words. Mel was able to continue meeting with her to offer support and one such meeting Sarah told her that her two children had wanted to go on a school trip, the cost of which was £7 per child. Ordinarily, they would have missed out as the cost would have been unaffordable. However, since starting work there is money for these small luxuries and she was able to pay for the outing. At this point Sarah broke down, happy tears streaming down her face. This is such a small change to some people, but for Sarah and her children it is everything.
Following the success of her journey with CFW, we put Sarah forward for an award with the Conwy and Denbighshire Adult Community Learning Partnership – Cyswllt Dysgu. She won Achiever of the Year and received a certificate which is very much deserved.
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*Our participant’s name has been changed to keep her identity confidential.