A new addition to the GREAT team

Today, we said a temporary ‘au revoir’ to Diana, one of the GREAT Projects Employment Support Officers (ESO). Diana is going on maternity leave so she can focus on the newest addition to her family, and the GREAT Project team; her soon-to-be-born baby boy.

Diana has been with the GREAT Project since 2017, and has been incredible colleague and friend to all of us here, not to mention an amazing ESO to her participants. At our Changing Lives Together event, Prafula Joshi, one of Diana’s participants, gave a short speech and gave Diana a special mention.

“My mentor, my ESO, Diana, and my friend; she’s followed me, she’s taught me and she’s still giving me support even now with the job I’ve got.”

From all of us here at GREAT and Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL), we wish you all the best for motherhood and the arrival of your bundle of joy.


Another GREAT Project participant finds employment

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Jessica had not long moved back to Leicester when she found out about the GREAT Project. She was attending the Leicester Town Hall’s summer Playday and came across a GREAT Project stall where she spoke with a member of the team. After discussing all the project can offer and what support it provides, Jessica felt like it was the right project for her.

When Jessica spoke to the team, she felt lost and had little confidence or motivation to find a job. She’d spent a number of years self-employed and this affected her confidence; she didn’t know how to get out there and look for a job anymore.

“When I joined the GREAT Project I was desperate for help. I really felt down about being unemployed but I just didn’t know what I could do to change it.”

Jessica met with Harinder, her Employment Support Officer (ESO), to discuss her options and what she wanted to achieve whilst on the project. The main support Jessica wanted was help around applying for jobs, including writing her CV. However, once Harinder explained all the opportunities that were available, Jessica was quick to take up the range of support available to her.

Not only did she receive the support she wanted when it came to applying for jobs, she also attended in-house workshops based on interview techniques and self-employment. What really helped Jessica though, and what she credits her new found confidence to, is her participation on the three day confidence building course. This course is designed to encourage participants to work with one another in order to solve problems and complete tasks. With this new confidence, Jessica visited BBC Leicester Radio to speak on air about her time with the project.

Jessica also completed a work placement organised by delivery partner, Business in the Community. She enjoyed her time so much with the homelessness charity, she applied for a paid position within the organisation. The charity was so impressed by Jessica, they offered her the role.

Jessica said:

“Meeting with Harinder gave me a purpose and the belief that I was going to be okay. Attending the workshops gave me the chance to meet other people in a similar position to myself, and that helped me a lot. The project heard and understood me, and that meant the most.”

Harinder said:

“I’m thrilled Jessica has come so far and achieved the goal she set out to do. She came to us unsure she would ever be able to find work and now she’s employed and enjoying it. Her progress over the months has been incredible and I really am exceptionally proud of all she’s achieved.”

Jessica continues to work for the homelessness charity and is enjoying her new role.


A GREAT Project participant moves into paid employment

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Emma, a single mother of four, was unemployed before she joined the GREAT Project. Her ultimate goal was to find work, but she was unsure where or how to start. With this in mind, Emma took her first proactive steps towards this goal, and attended a ‘Progress to Work’ event. It was here she found out about the GREAT Project.

“I needed to get work and I needed help with my skills, especially my confidence and CV writing. I just couldn’t do it on my own.”

Emma joined the GREAT Project knowing she wanted to find work, but she wasn’t sure how to overcome the barriers she faced. After discussing the options that would be available to her as a participant on the project, Emma felt she’d finally found the right programme to help. This was further cemented after she met with her Employment Support Officer, Anita, who spoke with her about the career goals she had and presented her with all her available options.

Whilst on the project, Emma firstly attended work club sessions. It was here she was able to look for a role that would be suitable for her, as well as access the help she’d been looking for when it came to writing a CV. After receiving support around looking for a job, Emma attended the confidence building course and an interview skills workshop. Both of these were geared towards building Emma’s confidence in different scenarios and gave her adaptable skills she could take anywhere. The final part of Emma’s journey came when she met with delivery partner, Business in the Community, who organised for her to go on a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour at a local organisation that provides care services to individuals. Here, Emma expressed interest in working in the care sector, and the company invited her back for an interview. Emma was successful in her interview and was offered the role.

Emma had this to say about her time with the project:

“The project made me believe in myself, it gave me more confidence. It helped me get into the work that I want to do forever. Thank you!”

By completing the project, Emma was also quick to recommend the project to others, and said:

“Do it! As soon as possible – the sooner, the better!”

Anita, Emma’s Employment Support Officer whilst on the project, said:

“Working with Emma has been an absolute pleasure. Seeing her go from strength to strength whilst on the project makes me feel immensely proud. The fact she secured a job in an industry she wants to work in just makes her experience that much better.”

Emma is currently enjoying her new role, and is looking forward to what the future may bring.


GREAT participant successfully completes their time with the project

Mother of five, Tracey, left her job and never found the confidence to put herself back into employment. She began to feel like she was no longer herself, isolated and away from everyone. Tracey’s main barrier that she felt she had to overcome was her self-confidence.

“My self-confidence was at an all-time low, my life at home was chaotic, and I was in a truly dark place. I’ve spent so long being knocked back time after time, nothing I said or did was ever right. I basically felt like there was no hope in continuing.”

Tracey, who was unemployed at the time of joining the GREAT Project, was referred by a family support worker. Her goal was to exit the project feeling more confident in herself and when looking for a job, but admits she didn’t have much faith as she’d been let down by different programmes before.

Whilst on the project, Tracey forged a strong relationship with her Employment Support Officer, Emma, who supported Tracey through the entirety of her time on the project, ensuring she knew about all the options available to her. Tracey accessed a range of activities whilst on the project, including one-to-one work club sessions where she received support in writing a CV and a cover letter, as well as the confidence building course.

The confidence building is a three-day programme designed to develop relationships, reflection and resilience. The course is delivered in a way that’s fun and engaging, helping participants come out their shell and build their skills in a variety of things including; teamwork, communication, confidence and positive thinking.

Tracey puts her new found confidence down to the course, and says it’s the best thing she’s done in a long time. Whilst on the training, she met people she has remained friends with and intends to meet up with them regularly.

“I felt like I wasn’t making my own decisions and everything I did was for other people, but this is something I did for me. I woke up in the morning and felt like I had a purpose, and the best part about it all was the fact it was fun. I don’t really remember doing anything fun over my life, but I remember everything I did with the GREAT Project. I’m genuinely upset that my time with the project has come to an end, but I’ve had an incredible experience and met some amazing people. To those unsure or considering joining the project, I’d say do it now, because it’s the best thing you’ll ever do.”

Emma was Tracey’s Employment Support Officer through the entirety of her time on the project and said:

“I am proud to have witnessed Tracey’s accomplishments whilst she was on the project. She has come a long way and managed to overcome barriers through sheer courage and determination. Hopefully now she will believe that her dreams are within her grasp”.

Looking forward, Tracey intends to carry on her job search, utilising all the skills she learnt as a participant on the GREAT Project. She feels more confident in herself and is looking forward to finding a new role.


A GREAT participant secures volunteer role

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Eda came to the UK a little over three years ago from her native country, Turkey. Between living in Turkey and Dubai, Eda had acquired the skills she needed for her career, but once in the UK, she was unsure how to transfer them. Eda knew she wanted to find work supporting adults, but didn’t know where to begin.

“I came to the UK and knew I wanted to support adults, especially refugees. I learnt the skills I needed elsewhere, but I didn’t know how to use them here and I didn’t know where to begin. I just felt lost and overwhelmed.”

Eda heard about the opportunities that would be available to her as a participant on the GREAT Project and decided to self-refer. Diana was appointed Eda’s Employment Support Officer (ESO) and met with her to understand what barriers she faced so they could work together to overcome them. Eda ultimately wanted to improve her English, learn about the opportunities available in the UK, and integrate herself more into British society.

“I wanted to be able to integrate and live happily in Britain. I needed to get out to meet new people and socialise, but before joining the GREAT Project, I only left the house to take my daughter to playgroup.”

Whilst on the project, Eda received support from delivery partner, Business in the Community. She visited local businesses on ‘behind the scenes’ tours, and also completed a work placement at a recognised humanitarian charity. Eda also accessed the support of Work Club, and learnt about CV’s, cover letters and job search skills.

Eda has now completed her time on the project, and is enjoying the new lease of life she has found.

“Now I have new friends and new skills. I have done this training and it has given me a new perspective on life!

Diana, Eda’s Employment Support Officer, said:

“Eda really is an inspiration. She came to the UK wanting to better herself so she could help others, and that’s such an admirable thing to do. She had the skills already, she just needed support to bring them out. I wish her all the best for the future.”

After her placement, Eda continued with the humanitarian charity and is now a permanent volunteer.