Siobhan Bailey – Civil Service Learner (50+)

Over the years, Siobhan has held a range of different positions mainly around management and catering. After being unemployed for a number of years, Siobhan wanted to get back into work but doing something different to catering. Thanks to a discussion with her Work Coach, Siobhan found out about the Civil Service and the course we run to help people get into the sector, and decided to join to see where it would lead her! Siobhan has gone on to work for the DWP, and we wish her the best of luck with the new position!

What were you doing before you started the programme?
I’ve held various jobs in my life including working as a florist, in a café, bar work and making birthday cakes! I was a cleaner at a doctor’s surgery which led to some administrative work and then to become the surgery receptionist which I did for about six years. I took a break to care for my youngest son for a couple of years but wanted to return to work and be with people again.
I took a job working evenings at Dudley College refectory as a catering assistant, and once my son started school moved to the day shift, a role I did for ten years. I then worked in a coffee bar in another college unit, before moving into the training kitchen for young adults with learning difficulties. I taught the students as a mentor how to run a coffee bar.
I progressed to a role as Kitchen Supervisor at Stourbridge College, before a step up to Chef Manager until 2019. I was unemployed before starting the course with Release Potential.

How did you find out about the training?
My Work Coach, Jill, at Dudley Jobcentre told me about the training. She knew I had management experience and had helped to support learners previously, but also that I wanted to do something different to catering. She encouraged me to think about taking the Civil Service course.

Why did you decide to join?
I was offered several courses, but I wanted to do the one with Release Potential. The wording on the course leaflet and the way it was put forward was so positive. Just reading about it gave me confidence and assured me I could do it when I doubted myself.

What did you think of the training? How did it help you?
The training was very good. The Tutors brought the groups together well and everyone supported each other. It all worked so well even though it was delivered online! The atmosphere was relaxed and I enjoyed the supportive breakout sessions. There was instant help available.
I wanted to obtain a role as a Work Coach with DWP. After the course, I knew what was expected of me in terms of making my application. Beforehand I didn’t know what any of the jargon meant! I went through the whole recruitment process and was offered a job, but the positions at Dudley I had wanted were no longer available. I was offered another in Birmingham but could not accept due to family commitments.

Were there any barriers or obstacles you had to overcome?
I was very nervous using video conferencing and needed to build up my confidence talking over the phone again. I needed to understand all of the jargon to make my application strong.

What are you doing now?
I’m employed as a Restart Adviser, it’s the same type of role as a Work Coach, working for DWP but through a private company called Ingeus. The role includes initial meetings with customers, action planning, goal setting, recognising barriers and carrying out needs assessments. We become mentors to our customers. In my first month I got six job starts or ‘life changes’ as we call them because that is what they are. They give you great job satisfaction. The training I’ve received helps you deal with difficult situations and people who don’t want to be with you.

What impact has the training had on your life?
It’s totally changed my life completely. I cooked and served meals for eighteen years, but now I have a whole new career. I completed my course with Release Potential at the age 62. Changing career at that age was quite something for me, but I didn’t want to sit back and wait for retirement. So, I swapped my chef’s whites, for something completely different!

What are your plans for the future?
I would like to work towards a full-time role carrying out the initial meetings with customers. We get a lot of customers with special needs and I enjoy helping them in these time consuming meetings, and referring them to work with my colleagues.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about doing the training but wasn’t sure?
I would say do it. You might think you can’t but can and will do it! Look at me, my journey has taken me from a pot washer to a Restart Adviser!

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