The following was written by Charisse about her experience using Birmingham Settlement’s Job Club.
My name is Charisse Reynolds, I previously attended Job Club this year at Birmingham Settlement in Aston. I was actively searching for work at the time, but I found the support, guidance and advice given to me by Sourour and Louise, motivating and friendly. I was always called the day before Job Club to remind me to attend, which was a very welcoming prompt for me to continue my job search. After getting many unsuccessful applications, I often felt like giving up, demotivated by the lack of results for my efforts. But the Job Club put me in touch with other likeminded people who were feeling the exact same way. We could share job search tips, vacancies we had seen and new schemes that were recently being implemented. If one person didn’t turn up to Job Club, because they had an interview or a job offer, it gave me a positive push towards finding work and being hopeful that I would find work too.
After applying to a recruitment agency, I soon found work and for a short period of time I was starting to rebuild a scheduled routine. But before long the contracts were withdrawn and work dried up. I had to visit the Job Centre many times and was told that supporting me with travel to attend interviews or the first month of employment was no longer an option available. However, there was a fund for me to attend an interview outside of Birmingham. I was quite frustrated with the idea that I was getting more support to seek work outside of Birmingham rather than seek employment within the area. I asked for advice and support at the Job Club, and they helped me to plan out a reasonable plan of entering employment in a new town.
Step by step I had new concerns and tasks to undertake to make this transition. I didn’t think that I would be able to do it but Sourour and Louise helped me by sharing their opinions and experiences, motivating me about the prospects of something new, whilst highlighting the preparations and requirements to relocate and re-enter employment. I have recently been offered a job working with a popular charity. The work that I do is very rewarding and I am starting to have a different outlook on what the future may bring.
I would like to say a special thank you to Birmingham Settlement, Sourour, Louise and the all the people who attended Job Club. Everyone together made a difference, I am happy to have been involved.
It’s been a busy time for the Development Team and our projects are progressing really well. The Job Club has really taken off and we are getting quite a few referrals from external services for CV and job search help. It is clear that this is a service that is needed in the area; we are meeting and helping a diverse range of the Aston community. One of our long standing attendees has just secured a job as a play Worker and has thanked us for all our help providing her with the tools she needed to get back to work, in a role that she wanted. In addition to this, we are aware of two other attendees have secured jobs after attending the sessions. Our sessions are busy, lively and great fun!
The team has also set up an ‘Aston Community’ Facebook page, working alongside the Aston Community Blog. It’s proved to be a great way to involve members of the community in local news, events and issues. It’s in the early stages, but we think it has the potential to really take off. So if you haven’t done so already, ‘like’ us on Facebook and share the page with people in the community. Take a look through the link: http://www.facebook.com/astoncommunity
Geraldine has recently begun volunteering in one of our offices supporting our Money Advice service with administration as well as helping on reception. We spoke to Geraldine about her experiences with us so far.
What made you want to volunteer in the first place?
“I wanted a change in career. Due to health problems I had been working in a low-stress environment, mostly in cleaning, and catering over the last 15 years. As I got better I completed. As I got better I completed a course and the provider pointed me towards voluntary work.”
What do you like and dislike about volunteering with us?
“The experience has been very positive. I feel like I’m learning all the time everyday, gaining more valuable experience. Everybody is very friendly. Being unemployed is very isolating so it’s nice to be near people. I tried really hard to think of something bad to tell you to help other volunteers who might follow but I couldn’t think of anything. It’s been such a good opportunity to learn because it’s work I would really like to do and it’s hard to break into the area because when you’re looking for a job they always want experience. It’s hard to find that first job to give you a chance to develop your skills.”
How did you feel about the training/support you were given here?
“First of all I was given all the basic knowledge I needed and it was very helpful to get started. Everybody is very patient and supportive here. I’m always asking questions and everybody is willing to help me. Sometimes you just have to learn as you’re going along as you need to know so much to be on reception, but everybody has been very supportive. It might be easier for someone already with experience. I do feel the training and support is good. It’s a very nice atmosphere to work in.”
Do you use any Birmingham Settlement’s other services?
“I went to the Job Club recently and it was very interesting. I’ve had advice from other agencies before but I really learned a lot. I had one-to-one advice to help me with positive thinking and how to prepare for interviews, as well as using LinkedIn. At home I look at example questions, but it was really helpful and more realistic to be with someone and actually practice answering the important questions I could be asked.”
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with us?
“I’m very happy with it so far. I enjoy coming into work everybody. I appreciate the great opportunity I’ve been given.”
Birmingham Settlement’s Job Club has gotten off to a great start! Launching on 17th April it’s already been immensely popular and had a good attendance each week. So far our volunteers have been helping people to complete application forms and looking at the possible criteria that employers might use for short-listing.
If you’re looking for work and want to refine your CV, develop great interview skills or want to find out how the Internet and digital technology can support your job search come along to find out more. Our netWORK sessions will look specifically at using social media and digital tools to portray a positive image of yourself and help you to connect with potential employers in new ways.
If you’ve got skills you would like to share then we’re also looking for volunteers to support the delivery of Job Club sessions. We’re particular looking for people who have some experience in IT, but anybody who has some knowledge they would like to share can help out.
The Job Club runs every Tuesday from 1pm-3pm at the Centre for the Aston Family.
For further information about the Job Club please contact Sourour Trevelyan on 0121 250 0771 or firstname.lastname@example.org