Claire Bird – Newton Aycliffe Returneeship

Claire had been self-employed with her husband for several years before an injury resulted in them needing to look for other work. Finding out about the course from her Work Coach, Claire thought it might help open up some new opportunities as finding employment was her main focus. During the course Claire obtained a position working as a Care Assistant, but in that time her husband’s injury healed enough for the pair to return to self-employment, just in time for the busy summer months! Read on to hear more of Claire’s story!

What were you doing before you started the programme?
Both my husband and I took this course at the same time. Previously, I had been a stay-at-home Mum, before we decided to become self-employed, and set up and run our own property maintenance business, Mike’s Property Care, which we did successfully for six years. However, my husband injured his shoulder, which restricted the activities and jobs we could take on, and this had a negative impact on the business. I had been volunteering in a coffee shop one day per week before I started the course and was looking for work.

How did you find out about the training?
From my Work Coach, Sarah at Bishop Auckland Job Centre. She encouraged me to take part describing it as a good team-building experience, opportunity to meet new people and develop new contacts. I was aiming to get a job and thought that the course could play a part in helping me along the way.

Why did you decide to join?
My opinion was there’s no harm in trying something new, and seeing if it might help open up some new opportunities. I was concerned about my husband’s shoulder, and knew we just needed to do what was needed to move forward.

What did you think of the training? How did it help you?
The training was relaxed and informal. It was a positive experience, and we all helped each other. Neil, the tutor was very patient with us. I learned some new IT skills. Being on the course, boosted my confidence and helped to develop my communication skills. It was useful to update my CV. Taking part in the course definitely helped as I got a job during the training.

Were there any barriers or obstacles you had to overcome?
I hadn’t been out of work for too long, so trying to find employment was my main focus. From a practical perspective, one of us still needed to collect our daughter from school each day, but the course was delivered flexibly which helped us to manage this. We were always caught up by the end of each day.

What are you doing now?
I obtained a job with Perfect Care Ltd as a domiciliary Care Assistant while I was on the course. I enjoy caring for people, but the job itself was quite stressful and didn’t suit me. However, my husband’s shoulder improved, and he was well enough to do certain jobs, so we returned to building
up our property maintenance business again. With the recent good weather, everyone wants things doing and we have a waiting list of both indoor and outdoor jobs from customers.

What impact has the training had on your life?
I enjoyed the training and found it useful. Building my confidence and communication skills was helpful, as was the opportunity to practice interviews. Participating in the training contributed to getting the job I secured while I was on programme.

What are your plans for the future?
We’re focused on building up our small business up again, but do not intend to employ anyone else. Our business grows and develops through word-of-mouth recommendations. We’re very lucky in that we have a lot of repeat customers.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about doing the training but wasn’t sure?
They should definitely do it. You will learn new things that will benefit you in some way. Everyone has different needs, and it will help.

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