Despite being unemployed for five years, Michelle wanted to get back into employment in a carer role.

Michelle felt a basic level of computer skills, lack of relevant experience, low confidence and her health were all issues holding her back from achieving these goals.

Confidence building

Recognising the benefits Michelle could gain from working with a dedicated mentor, Watford Job Centre Plus referred her to the STRIVE strand of the Building Better Opportunities programme which we run in conjunction with a range of local partners. In this instance the project partner was Watford Football Club Community Sports and Education (Watford FC CSE) Trust.

Michelle admits, “before coming on the programme I really lacked confidence in myself.”

Throughout the programme, a dedicated mentor worked with Michelle to identify realistic steps to overcome her low confidence and help her reach all her career goals. These steps included improving Michelle’s fitness and energy levels, which had proved to be a barrier for her having the energy required to find employment.

Getting active

In order for her to increase her energy levels, as well as getting the opportunity to meet people with similar interests to her, Michelle’s mentor recommended Hertfordshire Health Walks. The walks proved to be a great platform for Michelle to improve her confidence and fitness as well as providing the chance for her to meet like-minded people.

“I am surprised that I walk more now as this wasn’t something that I did much of before. The programme has helped me feel fitter and healthier. This started with the health walks that my mentor encouraged me to do. She came along and supported me on the walks and I now do a lot more walking and really enjoy doing so.”

Volunteering

Her mentor also discussed realistic career options with her, plotting a clear path of how to reach her goals, starting with a range of volunteering opportunities. Encouraged by her early progress Michelle began volunteering with the over 55’s Extra Time Club, a dedicated social event for over 55’s to meet, participate and socialise in free activities.

This helped to increase her confidence as she began interacting with participants and she found herself really enjoying the experience.
“I am now so much more confident. I’m also surprised that I have the confidence to be doing my voluntary role and working in front of people - I love it.”

Michelle then enrolled and completed two new courses - an IT course to help her learn new skills and a Classroom Assistant course which included a work experience placement as a Teaching Assistant at the Wellspring Centre in Watford. These courses increase Michelle’s self-belief and she is now looking for other ICT courses to attend with ongoing support from her mentor.

Future career prospects

With this dedicated support, increased confidence and the extra preparation Michelle was putting into job applications, she was consistently being invited to attend interviews.

Michelle recognises that the Building Better Opportunities programme and working with her mentor has impacted on her future prospects.

“I’m very positive about my future. I’m looking forward to hopefully moving into a Teaching Assistant role or something similar. I am much more confident about my future.”

*The Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund granted Hertfordshire County Council £5.5 million to help boost skills for residents. The project, part of the 'Building Better Opportunities' (BBO) programme aims to tackle the root cause of poverty and unemployment, such as physical and mental health issues, homelessness, addiction and much more.