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

Shannon’s Story

She had attended a Special Needs school because of her moderate learning difficulties, but since leaving Shannon was struggling to find work right for her.

Shannon felt nervous about meeting her Employment Support Officer (ESO), Anita, at their initial meeting. Although Shannon gets anxious meeting new people she realised she needed support with her CV, interview skills and money management. Once signed up to the project, Anita spoke with Shannon about her barriers and goals, and designed a support plan tailored to her needs. Shannon wanted to overcome the barriers she faced to find employment in a care home, a sector she had previous work experience in.

Shannon said about her initial meeting with her GREAT Project ESO:

I didn’t know what to expect.  I was very nervous because I am not very good meeting new people. When I first met Anita, I felt ok, she was nice. I was applying for jobs but wasn’t getting any. I thought why not give it a try.”

Taking a step towards her employment goal, Shannon attended an interview skills session. This workshop covers sourcing interviews, preparing for and learning from interview as well as a mock interview with feedback.

Shannon also met Anita for a one-to-one session to complete a new CV, cover letter writing and job searching. With Anita’s support, Shannon applied for roles in the care sector.

After attending several interviews, Shannon was offered a job with a local care company based in Hinckley. This is a company known to the GREAT project as a bespoke behind the scene tour was arranged by Business in the Community, a GREAT Project delivery partner, last year.

Anita, Shannon’s Employment Support Officer, said:

Shannon was an absolute pleasure to work with as she had a real desire to find work in an area she felt she would excel in. She was determined not to let her disability restrict her and this paid off! I’m so pleased for her especially as she is now in a job she wanted from the start.”


Shannon started her new role in December.

Josh’s Story

He was referred to the GREAT Project by Transitions, through Leicestershire County Council.

On his first meeting with his Employment Support Officer (ESO), Yachna, Josh spoke with enthusiasm about the support he needed to achieve his employment goal. Through his school, Josh had completed two years of work experience at a national supermarket. Josh loved his time working for the supermarket, but had been unsuccessful with subsequent job applications. He wanted the GREAT project to support him with his CV writing and to provide feedback on his previous applications to achieve his dream of a permanent position with this particular supermarket.

Once Josh was signed up to the project he started Work Club straight away. During the sessions at Hinckley library, he received support with his CV, cover letters, interview skills and how to job search efficiently.

With the one-to-one support from Yachna, Josh completed a new CV and they went through the right answer for the questions on the application, providing Josh with tailored support to meet his needs.

Josh was invited for interview by the supermarket and was successful in securing a permanent position and his dream job.

Talking about the impact the Great Project has had on Josh, his mum said:

“It was important to me that Josh felt supported by a professional body and not just by a parent. I felt happy that it improves his chances of getting a job and feel supported. It was lovely to see that Yachna shared our sense of happiness and achievement when Josh told her he got his job.”

Yachna, his ECO said:

“Josh always walked away from our sessions with a smile on his face which made it extremely fulfilling to work with him. When Josh called me to let me know that he got a job at Tesco I couldn’t be more thrilled! He is an absolute inspiration and his dedication and determination to find a job at Tesco was really admirable!”

*pseudonym used

First employability programme for Syrian refugee community group

Last October, the GREAT project attended The Employment Hub partnership event ‘Almostakbol’ (Futures) at Leicester City Hall, supporting the Syrian Refugee community into employment.

Hosted by Star Amal, an organisation who take referrals from The Home Office for the Syrian Refugee community, we went along to showcase the support and opportunities we provide for our participants. We shared our expertise in working with diverse ethnic minority individuals and communities including the Syrian Refugee Community.

12 attendees refereed themselves onto the GREAT Project, and after their initial meeting with an Employment Support Officer (ESO), they signed up to the project.

The GREAT Project ESO’s have designed a bespoke programme, with the support of an Arabic interpreter, working closely with Star Amal to accommodate the needs and barriers of the group.

The group started a 10 week employability programme this month, with interactive sessions to help build and develop the key skills needed to find future employment in the UK.

Gurdip’s Story

He saw the GREAT Project poster at his children’s school and attended the ‘Welcome to GREAT’ introductory session at the school. After finding out more about the benefits and opportunities the project could offer, Gurdip knew the GREAT Project was the right path to achieve his goal of getting back into work.

Gurdip wanted support with getting work ready, and had a one-to-one session with his Employment Support Officer (ESO) covering CV writing, interview skills and how to effectively look for a job. He found this informative which helped Gurdip feel more confident.

Alongside this, Gurdip attended a confidence building course which gave him insight into what opportunities were available and how best to use them to reach his career ambitions. This course is aimed at participants struggling with confidence as it encourages them to talk and engage with one another, bringing them out of their comfort zone.

Following a discussion with his ESO, Gurdip also attended a 10 week construction course with Enstruct, where participants can learn practical skills including brick laying, carpentry and plumbing.

Gurdip also worked with delivery partner, Business in the Community, and attended a behind the scenes tour at a property solutions company. Behind the scenes tours provide a look into the workings of an industry and the job opportunities available, which is can greatly beneficial for participants development.

Accompanied by an Employment Coordinator, Gurdip went on BBC Radio Leicester to discuss his experiences and the support he accessed to encourage other men on to the GREAT Project.

For anyone considering referring themselves to the GREAT Project, Gurdip said:

“I think it’s great to find out what’s out there. Sometimes you need a push in the right direction and the GREAT Project offers that. It’s given me more confidence to believe in what I need to do. My children also think I’m more confident, my oldest daughter has picked up on it.”

Gurdip’s ESO said:

“Gurdip has been really motivated from the start of his journey on the project, attending all activities that we suggested to him. It’s great to see how his confidence regarding his job search has increased. Gurdip has now left the project having completed his CV, being able to apply for jobs and has even been for some interviews. Gurdip is ready and more determined than ever to get back into work.”


Since leaving the GREAT project, Gurdip has put into practice the new skills he’s learnt by securing a job as a Warehouse and Production Operative.

Behind Every GREAT Man Employability Programme

This programme is in conjunction with the projects #BehindEveryGREATMan campaign which launched earlier this year, with the key message of “doing it yourself doesn’t mean doing it alone”.

When asked what employment means to them, one participant said:

“It’s means giving my children things I can’t give them at the moment. I want them to look up to me and remember me as someone who was hard working.”

The six interactive sessions held at Charnwood Museum were designed to help participants build up employability skills to get back into work or move into training. This is complimented by one-to-one support with CV writing, cover letters and job searching.

Five participants completed the programme of workshops covering confidence, employment goals, budgeting, interview skills and managing a return to work. On the final session, participants were presented with their certificates and given a chance to look back on their progress and plan the next steps.

Feedback from the group around attending a programme with other male participants was positive. As the weeks progressed the attendees worked well together, finding it easy to talk to others in the same situation.

Tom found out about the GREAT Project when accessing his local food bank after he lost his job. He’d never heard of the project but was interested in anything that would get him back into employment. Struggling with his confidence and self-esteem, Tom found the employability programme to be a confidence builder, gaining invaluable insight and techniques. It helped Tom being in a group of people in the same position, having the opportunity to be open without the fear of judgement.

Talking about the employability programme, Tom said:

“I went through a stage in my life where I reached rock bottom and this was even before I lost my job, it knocked my confidence and it’s hard to pick yourself up from that. I struggled talking one-on-one, let alone in a group of people, it’s personally helped me massively.”

Tom is now moving on to a 3 day course, focused around confidence with the GREAT Project. Taking away what he’s learnt on the employability programme, he is making positive steps back towards employment.