Published: Monday, 3rd April 2017
A friendly group, aimed at raising the aspirations of anyone who has been out of work for a long time, has started in Hellesdon.
The Choices programme, which is run by Broadland District Council, is offering people with long career breaks the chance to boost their confidence, while improving their CVs, English, maths and computer skills.
It offers a personal and more holistic approach to get people back into volunteering or work experience and give them the confidence to apply for jobs.
Tutor Heather Taylor, a careers adviser, left school with just two O Levels. Through adult education she has built a successful career helping others learn and is passionate about her work.
"Part of my work is embedding confidence," she said.
"It's a funny thing - you can't just make someone confident, but by improving your skills, you become more confident.
"I always feel I have achieved if someone doesn't go back to where they were before - if they go on to do another course or voluntary work or hopefully work. It's about people opening doors to themselves."
Those attending the current 12-week programme have different reasons for being out of work - from bringing up children to caring for elderly relatives.
Some have not been in paid employment for more than 20 years and have enjoyed meeting other people on the course.
"I mostly came to integrate with people," said Deborah Bantock. "I had my third child 15 years after having the first one and I had to bring him up. Their dad left when my youngest was nine months old and I was a single parent.
"I didn't go back to work because of the childcare costs and because when I had my children, I intended to bring them up myself."
Bridget Royall wanted to get back into work after choosing to have a career break. She said she kept herself busy during her time off by burying herself in arts and crafts, but knows it can be a depressing time for people.
"I think this course is the best thing I have ever done," said Bridget.
"With help from the wonderful tutors, I feel I could do anything now. It's given me such confidence that I have already offered to volunteer for a museum. I have a passion for history but I would never have taken the step to ask about volunteering if I hadn't come here."
Broadland District Council started running the course because it wanted to personalise the experience for job hunters who had not been in employment for some time.
“We decided to look at the reasons why people weren't successful in getting the jobs they went for,” said Jane Bagley, Economic Development Officer at the council.
“We found it was a lack of self-esteem, lack of confidence, people thinking they don't have any skills to offer. But this course has really improved people's confidence and made them realise they have many transferable skills employers are searching for."
For more information or an informal chat about the Choices programme, please call Economic Development officer, Jane Bagley, on 01603 430449.