Angela*, a young woman in her early 20s, began her Fair Start Scotland journey in September 2020. She came to us with low confidence and self-esteem, no work experience, and a number of daily caring responsibilities involving her parents. There were other things to overcome, including not having very positive experiences during her school life and initially feeling overwhelmed by the idea of working on the programme and with her Jobcentre Plus work coach. As if all that was not enough, she also had a daily battle with her own mental health and anxiety.
Our priority was to ensure Angela knew that the programme was her programme, that we could work at her pace, and that the key worker was there to help, support and provide guidance throughout the whole process. The journey began with a focus on Angela’s employability skills, producing her CV and a cover letter. She believed that because of her lack of work experience we would not have enough information to add to a CV. This was not the case, however, as the wealth of experience she has caring for her parents' needs, doing voluntary work within a community garden, as well as her own interests and hobbies, highlighted the transferable skills she has acquired over the years.
We felt it was important to assist Angela in improving her confidence and self-esteem, so encouragement and support were provided throughout each appointment, whether that was in constructing her CV or giving her the time and space to decide the next step in her programme.
Angela decided to start a numeracy course to improve her maths skills with the hope of taking the Nat 5 maths exam in the future. This gave her time and space away from responsibilities to do something for herself and for her future. Angela is really enjoying this course and her tutor believes she may even be capable enough to go on to the Higher Maths course, passing the Nat 5 qualification altogether.
During the process of completing her CV and cover letter, discussions began around areas of work to focus job searches on. Angela did not feel ready for a work environment but expressed her interest in volunteering, so we started to look into volunteer opportunities within the local area. We discussed her interests further and what types of work she wanted to do. Her passion for animals and their welfare, as well as wanting to enter a retail environment, played a big part in her applying for a position with PDSA.
Although it was a long process with uncertainties along the way, Angela secured an interview and taster day. She overcame her initial worries and anxieties about this, and her improving confidence enabled her to attend the interview and subsequent taster day. She stated that she thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hoped she would be successful.
After the taster day, Angela was unsure of the outcome and felt anxious and deflated because she had not heard from PDSA. We talked through what happened on the day and what was said. She mentioned that they had requested references for her but had not told her she was successful. We tried to explain to her that there is promise in this as references are not usually sought until you are successful in gaining the position. This hopefully helped her to feel more positive about the situation.
We spoke to Angela later in the week and she was happy and excited to say that she had been given the volunteer position and was due to start on December 4, 2020.