Amira’s Story

Amira’s found the GREAT Project through her local Job Centre. Since graduating in 2018 with a Business Management degree, Amira had done agency work but was looking for a full time permanent position Admin role. Amira needed support in looking and applying for jobs, she was open to volunteering opportunities and work placements.

Through the project’s delivery partner, Business in the Community, Amira attended a Behind the Scenes tour at NEXT HQ. Behind the Scenes tours are a great opportunity for participants to insight into the runnings of an organisation and the different roles available. Amira went on to attend another Behind the Scenes tour at the University of Leicester a few months later.

Amira met with her Employment Support Officer (ESO), Desrie regularly and was advised she would benefit from attending Work Club, receiving support with her CV, job searching and interview skills.

Amira was interested in applying for a work placement opportunity at NEXT head office. With Desrie’s support, she took part in a practice interview which boosted Amira’s confidence greatly. Her hard work payed off and she was offered a work placement in the ladies and home department, in a data entry position.

The one-to-one support Amira received was invaluable to her. It made her not feel alone on her journey to finding the right role.

Amira comments on what she’s gained from the GREAT Project:

“There was always someone there at the end of an email and phone. I feel the project has benefited my by boosting my confidence, I can now write an application on my own and I’ve gained invaluable interview skills.”

The support she received from the GREAT project, and Amira’s hard work and determination, helped her secure a job as an admin assistant at an office administrative service company.

Desrie, her ESO said:

“Amira was determined to find employment from the start. She was open to trying all avenues to find the right admin job for her, whether it be in a school, office or retail. Amira has put into practice the skills she gained on the GREAT project, including interview and job application skills. She has come a long way and I’m proud to see her secure a full time admin role.”

*Pseudonym used


Sukhwinder’s Story

Before joining the GREAT Project, Sukhwinder faced multiple barriers to work, including anxiety, mental health issues, a disability and lack of skills, all of which were preventing him from finding his first job. So when his local job centre referred him to the GREAT Project, he was happy to sign up.

Meeting with his Employment Support Officer (ESO), Yachna, Sukhwinder was initially quiet and shy, but slowly opened up about the difficulties he was having looking for work and other personal issues. Together, Sukhwinder and Yachna drew up a support plan that he was happy with, agreeing on the activities he would attend.

Firstly, Sukhwinder had one-to-one support from Work Club, where he created an up to date CV, practiced writing cover letters, job searching and using online job sites. Sukhwinder had previously found big group sessions overwhelming, so he appreciated the one-to-one support provided by the GREAT Project.

Sukhwinder also took the opportunity to attend the behind the scenes tours at Next and East Midlands Airport, organised by the GREAT Project’s delivery partner, Business in the Community. Behind the scenes tours provide participants with the opportunity to visit different organisations, see how they function and find out about the different types of roles available. Many of these organisations also offer work experience and placements to GREAT Project participants.

Sukhwinder attended a budgeting workshop with in-house Employment Coordinator, finding it very useful. He also attended a one to one interview prep session, exploring how to answer specific interview questions by drawing on his own experiences, helping Sukhwinder think about his strengths and weaknesses.

Finally, Sukhwinder accessed the three day confidence building course offered by the GREAT Project. Delivered in small groups, participants are encouraged to work together to solve problems and complete tasks. Throughout the three days, participants talk and have fun whilst working towards the goal of completing ‘the challenge’.

“Confidence building was really good to meet other people and being able to share our opinions without any judgement from anyone.”

Putting into practice all that he had learnt on the GREAT Project, Sukhwinder felt confident enough to apply for jobs independently. Sukhwinder was successful in securing a position as a Retail Assistant at a national supermarket.

To those thinking of joining the GREAT Project, Sukhwinder said:

“Don’t be scared, they are here to help. Now I have a job, I’m more stable and don’t have to worry about going to the job centre. I feel better being able to support my family.”

Yachna, his ESO commented:

“Sukhwinder was a very polite young man. It was great to have worked with him and to have been able to offer support which he was looking for. During his time on the project he grew in confidence, made new friends and started to believe in himself. This was evident when he told me he had been successful in securing a job. I wish him all the best for the future.”





Aimee’s Story

Aimee found out about the GREAT Project at her local job centre after speaking to a GREAT staff member. The member of the team told Aimee about what the project has to offer and how it could help her.

Speaking to her Emplyoment Support Officer (ESO), Aimee explained that she was anxious when she initially joined the project, but knew she wanted to get back to work. The support she received to overcome her barriers included supporting her with her anxiety, lack of skills, low mood and financial problems.

“I didn’t realise I needed help with my mental health until I started and I picked up on comments.”

Yachna drew up an action plan for Aimee and they spoke about the resources available to her, she was very enthusiastic to access all the available support. Aimee was on income support at the time of joining the project, but as her son was due to turn five, this support would change.

Aimee attended a number of Work Club sessions where she created an up to date CV, practiced writing cover letters, job searching and using online job sites.

“I felt motivated to look for work myself, after my CV was completed I felt like the old me again.”

She also attended a behind the scenes tour at Next, organised by delivery partner, Business in the Community. Aimee found this extremely useful as it gave her an insight into what it would be like to work there.

Alongside this, Aimee attended all in-house workshops available to her. These sessions cover budgeting, managing your return to work, interview skills and claiming your confidence; giving participants a comprehensive toolkit to finding employment.

Finally, Aimee participated in a three day confidence building course offered by the GREAT Project. Delivered in small groups, participants are encouraged to work together to solve problems and complete tasks. Throughout the three days, participants talk and have fun whilst working towards the goal of completing ‘the challenge’. The challenge requires participants to put the skills they’ve learnt over the past few days together, and work as a team to beat the clock. Aimee received glowing feedback from the course facilitator, commenting on her natural leadership skills, and specifically on her ability to help others when they were struggling.

Aimee said about her time on the GREAT Project:

“I never felt judged or lower than anyone. I needed that. Since not working and having a child, I became depressed, lonely and scared of the big wide world. I now feel happier, independent, more confident, less anxious, I sleep better and I manage my finances without crying every day.”

Aimee put all that she had learnt whilst on the GREAT Project into practice and confidently applied and attended interviews. She was soon offered a position at an architectural ironmonger company, as an Office assistant.

Yachna, Aimee’s ESO commented:

“Aimee was so enthusiastic from the get go and that made it easier to work with her and better support her. She is such a strong and inspirational woman and I feel very privileged to have been her ESO. I was so pleased for her when she told me about her new job and the fact that they had been flexible to fit around her child care needs. I witnessed Aimee come out of her shell, grow in confidence and start to believe in herself again and I hope this continues for her.”



COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Support Volunteers

Voluntary Action LeicesterShire is working with both Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council to build up a bank of volunteers to join us and our Voluntary and Community Sector partners in supporting Leicester people during this unprecedented time. We know that there is a lot of effort and energy going into this at the moment on a local community level, but do recognise that it’s important to work with partners to do what we can to coordinate this effort.

You will ideally be someone who enjoys working with other people you may not have met before, be keen to help in a crisis and be willing to be flexible to the continually changing situation.

What you could be doing

We don’t know for sure yet exactly what the volunteering opportunities might involve, but examples include:

  • Reaching out to people in the community and providing information and advice
  • Dog walking if people are unable to get out themselves
  • Providing a friendly phone call service to help people that may be isolated or lonely
  • Picking up shopping for those that can’t do it easily themselves
  • Posting mail

COVID-19 Update

In light of the recent outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) across various parts of the world, and the recent UK Government’s announcement, the GREAT Project is taking all possible steps to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers, participants, service users and our local communities.

We have taken the decision to not take on any new referrals with immediate effect until further notice. However, we will continue to support existing participants where practicable to do so.

While the environment around us is uncertain, we take comfort in the fact that we have a first class team who are caring and compassionate for the communities we serve.

We will review the situation on a regular basis and update on our plans for the future. Please email us on if you have any queries or questions.

UPDATE (19/03/20): As the safety of our staff, volunteers, participants and local communities is paramount during this outbreak, the GREAT Project has taken the decision to postpone ALL activities until further notice. This will be effective from tomorrow (20/03/20). If you have any questions or queries regarding this decision, or how it may affect you, please email

Zac’s Story

Before joining the GREAT Project, Zac was unemployed and living at home with his parents. Zac’s ultimate goal when joining the project was to find employment but acknowledges he had multiple barriers to work, including lack of confidence, skills and opportunities.

“I was struggling and needed extra support to look for work. I didn’t have much confidence or experience, so I knew I needed help with training and qualifications.”

Zac was referred to the GREAT Project by a housing support officer, who informed him of the opportunities that would be available to him as a participant on the project. When Zac signed up, he quickly met with his Employment Support Officer, Yachna, who spoke with him about his barriers and what he wanted to overcome and achieve.

Whilst on the project, Zac accessed a range of workshops and courses that all supported him work towards his goal. Zac attended work club sessions which helped him write a CV and cover letter, and also supported him when looking for a job. These sessions worked in partnership with the interview skills workshop he attended, which allowed him to prepare for interviews as much as possible. These sessions inform participants about what to expect in different interview scenarios and help them prepare for typical questions they may be asked. He also attended a budgeting workshop, helping him to understand how to manage his money.

One of the courses Zac attended, which had a big impact on his life, was the three day confidence building course. Here, participants are encouraged to work together during activities to solve difficult problems. It aims to build their skills in communication, teamwork and confidence, as well as encourage positive thinking.

Zac also enjoyed the behind the scenes tours he attended with delivery partner, Business in the Community. He visited multiple large organisations in different sectors, giving him an insightful look into the different job roles he could consider working in. Through Business in the Community, Zac also undertook a work placement at a local wholesale manufacturer of desserts and cakes.

Zac said:

“The project has helped build my confidence. I’ve learnt that I’m not alone and there are people out there that will help and support me. The impact it’s made in my life is incredible and people should definitely join. It’s a great environment to be in. The team are all lovely people who support you with whatever they can”

Yachna, Zac’s Employment Support Officer whilst on the project, said:

“Watching Zac grow in confidence whilst he’s been on the project has been amazing. When I first met him, his self-esteem was so low, he couldn’t even look at me. His confidence has grown so much that he now feels confident meeting new people. I’m so proud of how far he’s come and wish him all the best for the future.”

Zac has now successfully completed his time on the project and has secured a part-time role at a restaurant local to him.

Anne’s Story

Before Anne joined the GREAT Project, she had been out of work for a while and had not long suffered a bereavement. Her work coach at her local Jobcentre thought the GREAT Project would be a good place for her to start.

Anne soon met with her Employment Support Officer (ESO), Diana, and discussed what she felt her barriers were. She outlined her barriers as lack of job skills and qualifications, and simply not knowing what job opportunities were out there. Anne was referred to the FAST employment programme that in-house Employment Coordinator, Kenton, and Diana were delivering. During the FAST employment programme, participants cover topics such as confidence building, interview skills, budgeting and how to manage returning to work.

Anne also attended Work Club sessions, where she was able to create a CV and cover letter, as well as learn how to effectively look for a job.

Whilst on the project, Anne also met with delivery parent, Business in the Community, and attended pre-placement training. During this training, she learnt how to prepare for placements and interviews, the importance of first impressions, interview skills and other aspects relevant to her placement. After the pre-placement training, Anne then went on to complete a work placement at a national supermarket.

After completing her time with the project, Anne moved into further training, studying computer software skills through an adult resource centre in her local community.

Speaking of her time on the project, Anne said:

“I wasn’t sure what to expect at first but the project was very useful in helping me gain confidence in myself. It gave me more belief in myself too. Everyone was very helpful and friendly, which made me feel at ease.”

Harpreet’s Story

Before joining the GREAT Project, Harpreet was a stay-at-home mum looking after her young son. Although Harpreet has a degree in fine art print making, she felt she lacked the confidence she needed to find work. Harpreet came into contact with the GREAT Project through her local children’s centre, and explained that she wanted help to build her confidence and general support to help her get back into the world and find a job.

“I didn’t know such services actually existed. I was so glad and happy that I actually took the step to find out what the GREAT Project was all about.”

Harpreet was soon introduced to her Employment Support Officer, Leah, and together, they devised a plan tailored to Harpreet’s needs. She soon began attending the various workshops on offer, including sessions on interview skills and returning to work – covering best practices, what to expect and making a good impression. Harpreet also worked with delivery partner, Business in the Community, and attended a behind the scenes tour at a multinational retail organisation based in Leicester.

Harpreet also attended a three-day confidence building course. Here, participants need to communicate and work together to overcome various tasks. This encourages them to speak freely and form bonds with one another. It’s also good to help them understand what qualities they hold, such as being a good leader or being able to think strategically. Harpreet also utilised the childcare provision the GREAT Project provides, making the sessions far more accessible for her, as childcare was one of her barriers.

Harpreet feels that joining the project benefitted her greatly; she learnt how to converse with others, gained confidence when it came to interviews and learnt what skills she already possessed.

Reflecting on the project, Harpreet said:

“If you’re considering joining a programme like this, then join the GREAT Project. Learning more about the skills I already possessed and talking to others in a similar situation helped me no end. Take the step to join, because there’s nothing to lose but plenty to gain.”

Leah, speaking of Harpreet’s time on the project, said:

“Harpreet is a perfect example of what can be achieved with the GREAT Project’s support. She started as a stay-at-home mum and has now secured a role at one of Leicester’s largest organisations. She knew what she wanted to achieve and worked hard to make it happen, and I couldn’t be prouder of her.”

Harpreet completed her time with the project and secured a paid role at the retail organisation she visited.