Melanie’s skills are just what the doctor ordered

A full-time mum from Chorley has achieved her goal of getting back into work, after taking part in Groundwork’s Age of Opportunity programme.

Melanie is a full-time mum, but as her son reached the age of 12 and was becoming more independent and responsible, she felt able to start looking for work again. Ideally she wanted something part-time and office based. Melanie’s local Job Centre told her about the Age of Opportunity programme run by Groundwork. The programme helps people over the age of 50 to overcome their barriers and move closer to employment, education or training.

After joining the programme, Melanie was assigned a personal mentor, Viv, who would provide advice and support. Together they began looking at Melanie’s job aspirations, assessed her skillset and agreed on the type of skills and training she might need to become work ready. Viv also completed a ‘better off calculation’. This helped Melanie to understand how working part-time might affect her benefit eligibility.

Gaining confidence and skills

Melanie comes across as a confident and very organised person. But at the start of the programme she felt very nervous about trying new things.  It had been a while since Melanie last worked in an office and she needed to bring her IT skills up to speed.  Viv organized for Melanie to receive IT support and complete a Digital Inclusion course. She also worked with Melanie to practice her interview skills. This not only strengthened her CV but improved Melanie’s confidence. Melanie soon felt ready to start work, but felt that she needed Viv’s help looking for and applying for suitable roles. Like many full-time mum’s, Melanie hadn’t appreciated all of the useful skills she had developed over the years. Time management, planning, problem solving, good communication and financial management were just some of the many skills Melanie had excelled at as a parent.

After a number of applications, Melanie was invited for a couple of interviews. One employer said that although she lacked the necessary experience of working on a specific database, they really liked her personality and would keep her details on file for future opportunities.

Job Success

In August, just 5 months after joining the programme, Melanie was offered a part time role as receptionist at a local medical centre.

Melanie says:

I really enjoy my new job. It keeps me really busy and fits in perfectly with my family commitments.

“Viv and the Age of Opportunity programme have been a massive help to me. They helped me appreciate that I had skills that employers were looking for and the confidence to start applying for the type of role I wanted.”

Groundwork Mentor, Viv Horrocks, says: “Age needn’t be a barrier to employment. Like many older people looking to get back into work, Melanie didn’t realise she had lots of skills that employers are looking for. All she needed was some encouragement, advice and support. I’ve really enjoyed working with her and I am so pleased to see her thriving in her new job.”

Groundwork CLM is a delivery partner in the Age of Opportunity project in Lancashire.

The Age of Opportunity programme is part of the nationwide Building Better Opportunities programme, funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund to help tackle the poverty and social exclusion faced by the most disadvantaged people in England.