North West of England

Changing Futures Changed My Life.

Gemma at @TheGrange

After being made redundant from her previous role, Gemma had been out of work for 12 months. This affected her confidence and self belief. It was at this point that she became involved with the Changing Futures project, run by Groundwork.

Changing Futures is focussed on supporting people to employment and Gemma says it has made a massive difference to her life.

Gemma says:

Before starting on the Changing Futures programme, I’d been out of work 12 months,

My experience at my previous employer and being out of work for a year affected my confidence and my self-belief.  I didn’t have much of a support network at the time and I wasn’t engaging with people or in circles where a job opportunity may arise.

Things started to change when I was introduced to Ros from Groundwork, who ran the Changing Futures programme.


After speaking to Ros, we agreed that I would benefit from volunteering with a Blackpool based charity called Empowerment. They support local people, many of whom may be isolated or suffer from loneliness.  Volunteering would help me to use my skills and experience, work alongside professionals and be considered if any paid roles became available.  I hadn’t heard of Empowerment before but decided I had nothing to lose and went for it. I am so glad I did.

As well as getting me back into a working environment, volunteering also meant that I’d have some recent activity on my CV, so prospective employers could see that I was active in a workplace, albeit as a volunteer. Within a short space of time I was given a small caseload of clients as part of my role as an Empowerment befriending volunteer.  Meeting and helping people really helped me to improve my confidence and I really enjoyed being in a position where I could help others. This could involve sending out care packages, reading books together, going for a coffee or a walk. It was about listening to what the person had to say and building the support around that.

In January 2021, my mentor, Ros, told me that Groundwork were recruiting for a new role, which she thought suited my skills and the type of work I was looking for. After discussing the role with Ros, I decided to apply. After 3 interviews, I was offered the job as a Youth Development Officer delivering the Unique FY Media course.

I am so grateful for the help and support I have received from Ros and Groundwork. I really feel I have a much better work/life balance. I have money in the bank and I am working in an industry I really care about.

Landing my ideal job

From the very first phone call Ros put me at ease. She reassured me that there was something out there for me, and this instantly boosted my confidence. I was encouraged to be completely honest about the type of work I wanted to do and my salary expectations. This gave me the motivation I needed to apply for the right job for me, not just ‘any old job’ as it were. Ros offered constructive advice about my CV, pointing out things I hadn’t thought about that would give it more impact. She also regularly sent me details of jobs she thought might be suitable for me.

I wouldn’t be working for Groundwork without her input. Trawling jobsites day in and day out eventually becomes tedious and demotivating. I was at a point where I would have applied for and accepted any job but would probably have ended up feeling unhappy and undervalued in a role I wasn’t interested in. Ros supported me to find a job that literally ticked all the boxes. I’ve now got a job doing something I am most passionate about (youth work), it is local, and also flexible around my childcare requirements.

I owe Ros, Groundwork and the Changing Futures so much.  I really feel I have a much better work/life balance. I have money in the bank and I am working in an industry I really care about. And I can still drop my own children off at school in the morning. I’ve even continued to do some volunteering.


Groundwork is a delivery partner in the Changing Futures project in Lancashire.

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

The Changing Futures project is focussed on supporting people facing multiple and complex barriers to employment. All participants are unemployed or economically inactive and are at high risk of social exclusion, such as people from BAME communities, people with physical or mental health problems and people with learning difficulties.