“Richard helped me so much. He made me feel strong when I was weak and he understands me. I give all my thanks to him. He told me I’d get my dream job, but I didn’t believe him”
Joewell first came to the Centre in 2008. She was unemployed and living in a homeless hostel nearby. She had aspirations of working for an airline on their
check-in desks, but limited work experience meant that she didn’t have the skills they were looking for.
Richard Breedt is the Employment Support Officer who worked one to one with Joewell. “She was one of my very first clients” he says, “and the odds were really stacked against her. She had very limited work experience, with no long-term roles on her CV and her literacy and numeracy skills weren’t strong”. As a result Joewell’s self-esteem was really low, her lack of confidence led to knock back after knock back, which in turn harmed her self-belief.
In 2009 Joewell gave birth to a baby boy, putting her job search on hold while she readjusted to being a single mum. She recalls how difficult that time was: “I didn’t have a job and I just wanted to work. I didn’t want to be on job seeker’s allowance and income support, I wanted to earn my own money. It was very stressful, but Richard helped me through it all.”
Richard noticed that the responsibility of being a single mum was having a positive effect on Joewell’s confidence. Having a son helped her to acknowledge her strengths, and she developed an assertiveness which Richard hadn’t seen in her before. When a job became available at a local bookies Richard encouraged Joewell to apply. They were looking for someone who could handle working in a challenging customer-facing role, and Joewell’s no-nonsense approach impressed them so much that, despite her limited experience, they offered her the position of Assistant Manager.
Joewell rose to the challenge and adapted to the role well. The added responsibility of being Assistant Manager helped her confidence to grow, and she learnt quickly that she would have to be strong in order to deal with disruptive customers. “Customers would get really stressed”, she recalls, “because they were losing money. They would spit and get abusive and take all their stress out on you. At first I was too soft, but when I got used to it I realised I had to be strong. When I was strong they knew where the line was.”
Joewell worked hard in her role but she still had aspirations of working for an airline. She kept an eye out for opportunities and when the chance to attend an open day at Gatwick Airport came up she decided to go along to see what they had to offer. She got talking to a company called Airline Services, who got her to fill in an application form while she was there and they offered her an interview on the spot. Joewell was really taken aback. “I was really worried” she says, “because I wasn’t dressed for an interview. But they told me, ‘we don’t care about how you’re dressed, it’s about your personality”. So I went in there and I gave them my best.”
The company were really impressed by Joewell’s experience of dealing with difficult customers and told her they would be in touch. Two months later she got a call from a private number when she was getting ready to go to work. It was Airline Services and they wanted to offer Joewell a job working on the Monarch check-in desks at Gatwick airport. Joewell couldn’t wait to tell Richard the good news, and handed in her notice at the bookies that same day.
Joewell started her job with Monarch in March and Richard is extremely proud of how far she has come. “Working for the bookies was a real turning point for Joewell”, he says. “She was given a lot of responsibility and she had to put up with some really nasty individuals. It was character building for her. She has really blossomed; her confidence has sky-rocketed. She’s become the person she wanted to become. We’ve supported her but she’s carried herself through it all. Joewell is a great example of perseverance, even though she had the odds stacked against her.”
Joewell would like to train to be an air hostess once her son is a bit older. Having a foot in the door with the airline industry means she’s in a great position to now develop a career she will be proud of. Richard’s help over the years gave Joewell the chance to discover her strengths:
“Richard helped me so much. I give him all my thanks. He made me feel strong when I was weak, he was there for me. He said, ‘Joewell you’re going to get your dream job’, but I didn’t believe him. He was so happy when I got the job with Monarch. He’s like a best friend, I can talk to him when I’m down and he understands me. The staff at the Cardinal Hume Centre really understand young people. They understand that it’s stressful when you have no money and no job, and they go out of their way to help you out.”
The Centre’s employment team work one-to-one with all people in need who come to them for help. They not only provide help with searching for jobs, writing CVs and preparing for interviews, but they build people’s confidence and go that extra mile for those who have nowhere else to turn.