School was “a rough time” for Richard Freestone.
“I’d been bullied and I left with a few Ds at GCSE. I had no aspiration to continue beyond that.”
Fortunately, he was urged to take part in a Dig It education to employment course at Groundwork… and things started to improve.
“I was offered the chance to do voluntary work at Groundwork Leeds and that turned into the offer of a job as finance assistant – working with shovels wasn’t my main priority!
“I wanted to do office work rather than environmental work and Groundwork gave me the chance to do just that.”
He became involved in IT and realised that this was where his future lay.
“The staff at Groundwork were really supportive and helped me to gain an NVQ Level 2 in business administration. I was working four days a week as an IT assistant and used the fifth day of the week to gain Microsoft certification. I then started to apply for jobs.”
After three and a half years as a volunteer and staff member at Groundwork, Richard joined Lloyds Banking Group and did other contract work before landing a job as an IT support analyst at Sky Sports in his home city of Leeds.
“Sky Sports is a fantastic place to work. I’m in a position where I never expected to be. I value what Groundwork has done for me. I gained practical skills and lots of confidence. It was challenging at the time but it was worth all the hard work I put in.
“Without Groundwork I would not have ended up somewhere as interesting as Sky Sports at the age of 23.”