Regaining employment after ten years: Margaret’s story

Margaret, from East London, found her first full-time job in ten years at Marks & Spencer’s Dalston thanks to a Business in the Community (BITC) programme.

A plastic shopping basket full of groceries

As a single parent of two, Margaret had to give up work as she was not given more flexible hours by her previous employer when she needed them.

“Ten years ago when I had my daughter, she was born premature,” says Margaret. “I had to spend a lot of time looking after her so I had to stop working and stopped looking for work.

“I was on my own. I found it really difficult because I needed part-time hours to be able to look after my daughter.”

Marks & Spencer’s Marks & Start scheme, run in partnership with Business in the Communty, is more than just work experience. Candidates are given a full induction to give them the confidence to take on a customer-facing role. The induction covers health and safety, manual handling training and in-depth customer service from an experienced member of staff who is assigned to them as a ‘buddy’.

“The placement moulded me to get back into work.”

Following a two-week placement in Marks & Spencer’s Stratford store, Margaret started working as a customer assistant in the Dalston store.

“Marks & Start gave me a zest for working and boosted my confidence because I was actually undertaking work not just learning about it. The placement moulded me to get back into work.

“To have a job feels like I am dreaming. I was looking for work for so long and I was really frustrated. I was thinking too much and was in quite a desperate state. I feel great.”

Through Marks & Start, an employment programme driven by a desire to help disable and disadvantaged people into work, Margaret is now looking to use her existing qualifications to progress within M&S.

READ MORE Find out about becoming part of the Business in the Community’s Ready for Work programme and helping people to gain and sustain employment.

“I want to progress within the organisation. I have a degree in health policy, and I’d like to get involved in health and safety and delivering training to colleagues.”

Sophie Brooks, Marks & Spencer’s Head of Employee Experience, said: “Thanks to our partnership with BITC, we are able to offer work placements at many of our stores around the UK to people … who have been struggling to find work. This means that there is a talent pool from which store managers can find suitable candidates, like Margaret, to join their team.”

Business in the Community’s Ready for Work programme is supported by the players of The People’s Postcode Lottery.

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