Kiera Bates – Sandwell Startship 2021

Kiera joined the Startship programme in August and after completing the course was successful in gaining a Kickstart role within West Midlands Metro as a Customer Experience Officer. The course gave Kiera a much needed boost and helped her gain extra qualifications along the way, we caught up with Kiera 4 months into her Kickstart role and she has not looked back. Read Kiera’s story below!

What were you doing before you started the programme?
“I’d previously worked for about two years. This included working in a nightclub and as a kitchen assistant in two different care homes. Unfortunately, I’d experienced some mental health problems, and had to leave my role. I’m originally from Suffolk and moved to the West Midlands to be with my partner. I was unemployed for about a year before I started the course with Release Potential.”

How did you find out about the training?
“I found out about the Startship from my Work Coach, Jack at West Bromwich Job Centre. He mentioned there was a course taking place that would be good for me. There was also a member of staff from Release Potential at the Job Centre who gave me some more detailed information.”

Why did you decide to join?
“I needed a new challenge in life, and the course felt right. I also recognised the opportunity to gain some new qualifications and liked the sound of this too.”

What did you think of the training? How did it help you?
“At the start of the course, there was a team activity which really took me out of my comfort zone. I think it helped me with my mental health. The training was different to anything I’d done before. I even surprised myself how into it I got!”

Were there any barriers or obstacles you had to overcome?
“I’m dyslexic and have always had difficulties with writing, but the tutors helped me with this when I needed it. My mental health worries went to the back of my head during the course.”

What are you doing now?
“I’m employed in a Kickstart role as a Customer Experience Officer with West Midlands Metro. I work various shifts on the tram network selling tickets to customers, answering questions and dealing with queries.”

What impact has the training had on your life?
“It’s helped me to deal with things outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t use to like being out in public unless I had my headphones on, but I’ve become more used to interacting with people. It’s also helped me in life more generally, on a personal level. I’m more confident to say what I’m thinking and be more direct.
On the final day, the Market Place event introduced us to employers. I met Claire from West Midlands Metro who had a lot of opportunities. This led me to visit the training depot in Wednesbury for an information event which led to an interview and then a job offer!”

What are your plans for the future?
“March is the fourth month out of my six-month placement. I’m really hoping there might be an opportunity of a full-time job at the end of my Kickstart role.”

What would you say to someone who was thinking about doing the training but wasn’t sure?
“They should definitely do it. It’s more than you think it’s going to be! I hadn’t thought about this line of work before doing the course, so wouldn’t have known about it.”

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