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‘I feel I could do anything now’ - Norfolk back-to-work group aims to build job-seekers’ confidence

PUBLISHED: 12:38 04 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:39 04 April 2017

The first group to have completed the Choices programme run by Broadland District Council. Picture: SIMON FINLAY.

The first group to have completed the Choices programme run by Broadland District Council. Picture: SIMON FINLAY.

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Starting a new job can be a daunting and stressful experience at the best of times - but doubly so after a career break.

The first group to have completed the Choices programme run by Broadland District Council. Picture: SIMON FINLAY. The first group to have completed the Choices programme run by Broadland District Council. Picture: SIMON FINLAY.

A new support group set up in Broadland is aiming to give returning workers a helping hand, with a particular focus on building confidence and raising aspirations.

Did you find it difficult to go back to work after a career break? Leave your comments below.

It also offers traditional employability skills, such as CV improvement, English, maths and computer skills and looks to prepare people for volunteering or work experience placements to give them the confidence to apply for jobs.

Jane Bagley, economic development officer at Broadland District Council, which is running the group, said: “We decided to look at the reasons why people weren’t successful in getting the jobs they went for.

“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.”

Bridget Royall at the Choices programme being run by Broadland District Council. Picture: SIMON FINLAY. Bridget Royall at the Choices programme being run by Broadland District Council. Picture: SIMON FINLAY.

Those attending the first 12-week programme had different reasons for being out of work - from bringing up children to caring for elderly relatives - and some had not been in paid employment for more than 20 years.

Tutor Heather Taylor, a careers adviser, left school with just two O Levels but through adult education has built a successful career helping others learn.

“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.”

The course is open to anyone who has been out of employment for a long time, and the next 12-week course starts after Easter.

‘I feel I could do anything now’

Mum Deborah Bantock has found the group a helpful step towards employment after a break to bring her children up.

“I mostly came to integrate with people,” she said.

“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.”

Another member of the first cohort, Bridget Royall, wanted to get back into work after choosing to have a career break. She had kept herself busy during her time off with arts and crafts, but acknowledged it could be difficult time for people.

“I think this course is the best thing I have ever done,” she said.

“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.”

To find out more about the Choices programme, call economic development officer Jane Bagley on 01603 430449.

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