While looking after her young son Femi* became unemployed and homeless. Feeling she had no options she made some bad decisions which resulted in a criminal conviction. She felt helpless until her support worker told her about Business in the Community's Ready for Work Programme. After two days of training, a voluntary work placement and a range of post-placement support, Femi secured a job. She tells us her story:
“I’m studying for a degree now in health and social care. Eventually I want to look after children or older people. So things are good now, much better than before.
Before Ready for Work, I was on my own with my young son. I’d lost my home and was staying with friends or just anyone we knew... money was the problem and I made some bad decisions - I'm so ashamed of that. When I got a new house, my support worker really helped me to settle in - I really trusted her.
“ The team leaders were very supportive, teaching me and telling me I was a hard worker. ”
She explained to me about the Ready for Work programme but I nearly didn’t go. It’s difficult when you have to come to explain about your conviction. I’m not that person anymore - I’ve changed. It's difficult to explain about your feelings, to talk from your heart, and some people don’t understand.
Gav [the Client Support Manager for Ready for Work in Manchester] gave me excellent support though and I felt very comfortable knowing he didn’t have a problem with my convictions.
At the start of the programme, the training gave me confidence because I didn’t have any, particularly as I had been without work for too long.
When I met the ladies from the store where I had my work placement, they were so nice and helpful. The team leaders were very supportive as well; teaching me and telling me I was a hard worker. And they talked to me about different 16 and 20 hour jobs that were coming up in August.
I was so interested in the jobs they mentioned, but I got a job at the University only a week after my placement instead. It was so fast! After meeting some nice people, my job coach helped me with my CV and interview technique. I passed! That was two years ago.
Now, I’ve started studying and college is going really well. My DBS [Criminal Records check] comes back next week but I'm not worried, as I declared everything before asking if I could study. They had no problem with it and they even thanked me for telling them.”
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people that we support. This piece has been edited from a longer interview.