New job, new start for Toni

Swansea resident Toni, aged 46, had worked in-store for a major clothing retailer but had lost her job during the covid lockdown. Unemployment, combined with the uncertainty of the pandemic had taken a toll on Toni’s mental health. Racked with anxiety, depression and loss of confidence, Toni wondered what her next steps would be. Retail was the obvious move but this was a sector that Toni felt had let her down. With no qualifications and only retail work experience, Toni felt this could be the only option.

Toni was referred to Workways+, the service that helps people into employment. Workways+ provided Toni with an Employment Mentor, Gemma, to help her get job ready with 1-1 mentoring and training and an Employment Liaison Officer, Adele, to introduce her to employers. Toni wanted a new job role and top of her list was office work. However, Toni didn’t have the relevant experience, training or qualifications to carry out this role.

Gemma and Adele set about finding suitable office work training courses. Two courses were identified, an Introduction to Windows, Internet, Email and Microsoft Office and a course in how to take the minutes of meetings. Workways+ funded both these courses. As the training dates came nearer, Toni’s anxiety levels rose. However, with some hand holding from Gemma, Toni passed the tests for both courses. Toni now has office work qualifications.

Next was finding Toni work experience. Gemma and Adele secured funding from Workways+ for a ‘Paid Work Opportunity’. A PWO is a service that Workways+ funds. It enables a business or social enterprise to employ a Workways+ participant for up to 12 weeks with Workways+ paying the employees wage. The employee gets work experience and on the job development and the employer gets to work with a potential employee without financial risk.

Gemma and Adele searched for potential employers offering a suitable office based opportunity. Swansea City Council had an opportunity for a Funding Assistant. Workways+ made contact and an interview was arranged. With the interview approaching Toni needed support from Gemma to help control her anxiety. Gemma assisted with mock interviews and prepped Toni with questions likely to be asked. Workways+ funded the purchase of new interview clothing for Toni to help her make a professional impression. Toni impressed at the interview and Workways+ offered Swansea City Council and Toni a PWO.  Although initially apprehensive, Toni settled in and enjoyed her role. Swansea City Council had an opportunity to work with Toni to judge her suitability for the role and at the end of the PWO Toni had gained new experiences and skills which would support her in future applications. A full time job as an External Funding Assistant was posted and along with other applicants Toni applied. With help from Gemma, Toni impressed at the application and interview stages. Toni was offered the job which she happily accepted.

Toni said, “I couldn’t have done it without Workways+. They have been amazing. They helped with practical things like training courses and funding but also they helped with building my confidence. It was their introduction and funding that got me my job. I can’t thank them enough and would recommend them to anyone looking for a new start”.

Workways+ is part funded by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government.

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