Tom Has Designs On Community Focussed Career

Grow Speke Project Assistant Tom

Getting a job after leaving school, college or university can be a challenge – regardless of what qualifications you have.

There are a number of routes you can take to start your career and everyone’s journey will be different. Take Tom for example.

Leaving University
Tom left University with a 2:1 degree in Graphic Design. He thought this would give him a great chance of getting a job in the design industry. It was more difficult than he’d imagined. Tom spent months constantly applying for graphic design roles. He had loads of interviews, but no job offers, mainly because he had no previous work experience.

As time passed, Tom grew frustrated and disillusioned and could feel his confidence draining away. He didn’t want to rely on Universal Credit and decided he couldn’t hold on any longer hoping that his ideal job would come along. Tom got a job working in a warehouse for a local supermarket.  It was long, tiring hours and night shifts. It wasn’t what he wanted to do for a career – but it paid the bills. Tom stuck at it for 6 months, but gradually began to dread the thought of going into work. He’d studied hard for 3 years and felt he owed it to himself to at least find a job he enjoyed. He handed in his notice and left.

Other Options
Tom had always enjoyed gardening when he’d lived with his parents. So he decided to look for something that involved gardening and working outdoors. Again, he had no trouble getting interviews, but didn’t get any job offers because he had no experience and no qualifications in horticulture.

I was losing hope of finding any sort of suitable work when the Job Centre told me about an opportunity at Groundwork.

“Grow Speke community garden was recruiting an Environmental Project Assistant via the Kickstart scheme. It was a paid 6 month placement, working 25 hours a week. I applied, was given an interview and to my surprise, I was offered the job. All those months of applying for jobs and constantly being turned down had affected my confidence. It was great to finally get some good news.”

Working at Grow Speke
Tom has quickly settled into his new role. He loves the fact that no two days are ever the same. He gets involved in a variety of tasks from general garden maintenance, building and basic carpentry, to helping out at events. Working at Grow Speke has started Tom thinking about what he can do to give something back to his local community.

Tom says: “I’ve learnt a lot in the 2 months I have been here. I love seeing how Grow Speke improves peoples’ lives. It’s a great place for people to meet friends, make new friends and learn skills. There’s a friendly atmosphere and everyone is welcome. A number of people who come to Grow Speke have issues with social anxiety. You can see that it only takes a few visits before they feel really comfortable here. Grow Speke has also opened my eyes to how much food we buy that we could actually grow ourselves, for a fraction of the cost.”

Tom’s Manager, Grow Speke Project Officer Justin Dalrymple has been really impressed with Tom since he joined the team. Justin says: “It’s brilliant to have someone like Tom in the team. He is hardworking and shows great initiative. Tom has thrown himself into a variety of tasks and has already had a visible impact on the site.” 

Although not currently working in the graphic design industry, Tom’s design skills are being put to good use. Groundwork has provided Tom with a laptop and the latest design software. He has is set to design leaflets and posters to promote Grow Speke’s events and provide the graphics for its social media pages.

Groundwork has kickstarted my career. The staff and volunteers here have so much knowledge about growing, gardening and nature. I’m taking the opportunity to learn as much as I can from them.

Next Steps
Inspired by Grow Speke, Tom wants to work for a community-focused project in the future, preferably involving growing and gardening. In the meantime, he is making the most of his time at Grow Speke.

He says: “Grow Speke and Kickstart has given me a chance to do something I enjoy for a job. It has also helped me feel more positive about my future career.”


At the end of his 6 month Kickstart placement, Thomas moved to Tasmania in Australia. He contacted us to say that he had been offered a landscaping and gardening role, for which we were more than happy to supply a glowing reference.

We wish him every success in his career and his new life Down Under.