Before starting on the My Futures programme, I had only worked in service based jobs (started at a hotel then progressing to bartending). It was always on or near minimum wage but more importantly: crazy hours that weren’t guaranteed, meaning that I was constantly worrying about money. My work history was fractured due to the transient nature of the industry; zero hours contracts, and I found it difficult to apply for more stable jobs. Some personal struggles and stressful periods of unemployment led to me seeing a counsellor from 42nd Street, who signposted me to a My Futures open event.
I was very nervous when calling, confidence has always been one of my issues despite on the outside seeming almost cocky at times! When I got to someone on the end of the phone (Everley from TMC) she did a great job in making me feel at ease. It really helped me erase a lot of doubt from my mind about turning up to the open day. It was nerve-wracking on the day to be in a room with a lot of similar aged people who were in the same position as me, all knowing we were about to go in for interviews, but the staff were helpful and supportive, and have been since.
I ended up being taken on at the We Love Manchester Charity. I didn’t really have a clue what it was going to be like, I’d never worked in an office before and the idea genuinely terrified me. It still is quite a big mental adjustment, and I do feel a little nervous every time I walk in, but the team I sit in and the people I work with have been incredible at supporting me and making the transition into fundraising and administrative-based work in an office setting much smoother than it could have been. Every single person there has the same values that the charity represents – of wanting to help and support Mancunians and that has made it so much easier for me.
In the first week or two, I was mostly reading on past charity activity, how it conducts its current schemes, and about the current charities activities. That introductory time allowed me to feel much more confident of what was required of me. I have been monitoring the charity’s official inbox for 6 months now, which as the first point of contact for people interacting with the charity actually comes with great responsibility.
In my first week at the charity I was able to help out with the huge Bee In The City Auction, which was a massive event for our city, raising well over half a million pounds for our charity! This really made me realise that I’m stepping into an organisation that can do great things for the people of my city.
Since then, I have been involved in multiple meetings with everyone from potential corporate partners to attending Trustee meetings with the Lord Mayor. At the moment in the charity, I’m helping to put together schemes under the Sir Howard Bernstein Endowment Fund.
I genuinely couldn’t list everything I have learnt so far, and still am learning, because it’d fill pages! From things that seem simple, like learning how to use emails and other computer programs in a workplace setting, to personal development like gaining confidence when conducting meetings and speaking to people in a professional environment. In a matter of weeks in a completely new environment, I had been able to look at myself in a new light and think “Yeah, I can actually do this” in a work environment I’d always felt wasn’t open to me.
The best thing undoubtedly is the stability that has come with a Monday-Friday work schedule where I know I’ll be in at the same time week on week. As good as everything else is that I’ve mentioned before, being on placement at the charity has taken me out of the precariousness that shadowed everything else I’d done and I am grateful for that. The hardest bit is travelling during rush-hour. But it was also really hard at first meeting dozens of new people every week, and making myself believe that I do deserve to be here and have this chance.
There were times at the start of the placement where I didn’t think I’d be able to do this, but I I have really stabilised now and I want to prove to myself that I can keep it up. Going forward, I would just like to be comfortable and not worry about bills. Moving out of home would help everyone out too I’m sure!
On 8th April, I had an interview for an Advanced Apprenticeship in Business Support with the charity. It was for the same role that I carry out now, but in a formal Apprenticeship with much more responsibility & the stability that an official employment contract brings. I was successful in that interview, and I am now the first Apprentice the charity has ever taken on! This felt overwhelming! Since starting, my post on 2nd May, I feel like I have found a really good fit and am keen to settle into the permanent post.