In 2017 we launched Change It: Progress to Success for the women of Liverpool. This confidence-building programme has a mission to help women develop their confidence, feel more positive about what they can achieve and begin building the future they want.
As we enter 2018, we’re preparing for the next round kicking off in January (more info here!).
Now, let us introduce you to previous participant, Catherine, to find out how ‘Change It’ changed her life ..
“For a long time I lied to people. Whenever somebody would ask what I did for a living I’d pretend I was in paid work. I was too ashamed to tell the truth that I was unemployed and losing the hope of ever finding full time work. I had seen how people on benefits were portrayed on television programmes like Benefit’s Street as idle, crude and dysfunctional and was afraid that people would stereotype me the same way.
I was made redundant at the end of 2014. Although I felt disappointed to leave a job I loved I wasn’t unduly worried about my future prospects. I had good qualifications and several years of work experience under my belt. I imagined I would have few problems finding a fulfilling full time job and I immediately set to work looking for roles that matched my experience and interests. In the meantime, I kept myself busy volunteering at a mental health charity and used some of my redundancy pay out to study an English MA with the Open University.
I started 2015 full of optimism. As the New Year’s fireworks set off as I remember feeling really happy, I still had a good chunk of redundancy money left, was making good progress with my studies and had secured a couple of job interviews. By March my new year’s optimism began to wear thin, I still hadn’t managed to find any work and my redundancy money was dwindling fast. I applied for Job Seeker’s allowance the following month, I was entitled to benefits but found the whole process demeaning and felt like a failure.
As the year progressed things seemed to get worse, I was victim of a crime, my grandmother died and a relationship I was in broke down. It wasn’t long before depression set it, I began to lose hair and spent hours in bed unable to face leaving the house. Thankfully a friend pestered me to see a doctor. The doctor was really good and put me in touch with a counsellor, I was also temporarily put on a Health Related Benefits programme.
Within time I became stronger. The counselling gave me fresh hope and I felt able to look for work again. Within the next few months I came off sickness benefits and sent off what must have been hundreds of application forms. I would spend hours honing my personal statement and seek advice on how best to sell myself to prospective employers. Most of my applications forms went unanswered and I was rejected for roles at the few interviews I had managed to secure. With each set back, my hopes of finding work began to diminish, I became increasingly frustrated and there were times when I felt like giving up.
A work advisor told me about a course at Liverpool’s Women’s Organisation called Change It, which claimed to ‘help women overcome barriers to change‘. I applied but I felt cynical at any claims it could inspire my confidence. A week later I started the four-week Change it Course. The course was in a bright, glass building minutes away from Liverpool’s China town. I was a little nervous but walking in the room I received a warm welcome from the course coordinator, Jenny.
The course examined the way we as women thought about ourselves. I came to recognise that I had developed very negative thought patterns about myself. I believed that I was a failure and unworthy of any employer’s attention. I also believed that my needs were not as important as other people’s leading to a lack of assertiveness. Having recognised these negative thoughts we worked on how I, and the other women in the room, could adapt the way we thought about ourselves. How could we transform such negative thoughts to a more healthy and positive thought process?
Slowly, through group exercises and the support from other women on the course, I began to change the way I thought. I could feel myself grow in confidence and learned more about myself than I could imagine. The course offered a safe environment where we were all able to be candid about our lives. It was the first time I’d been honest to a group of strangers about my unemployment status knowing I would not be judged.
Having completed the course I feel more confident and assertive. I have been able to say no, when appropriate, to things that I didn’t need or want to do. A couple of weeks ago I went for a job in Liverpool which involved a group exercise. In the past I’ve felt drowned out during group exercises, too timid to stand out, however, this time things were different. The Change It course had taught me that I, as well as others matter, and I confidently spoke and even collaboratively led in a group exercise. Later in the day I got the news I had longed to hear, I had got the job. The employer also mentioned that she was impressed by the confident and inclusive way I approached the group task.
I feel that without Change It’s help I would not have felt so confident on the day. I honestly believe that Change It has given me the tools to Change my life.”
Thanks to Catherine for sharing her inspiring story!
For more info on the next dates and venues for Change It: Progress to Success, click here.
To book your place or to speak to a member of our Engagement Team, contact us on 0151 706 8111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.