Laura Kickstarts her Career
“I truly did not expect to end up where I am today, I couldn't be more grateful.”
Laura Tuton took up a six-month Kickstart placement as a Retail Assistant in St Luke’s Hospice charity shop in Sheffield’s Crystal Peaks mall in December 2021. Referred to Kickstart by her Work Coach, Alison, at Job Centre Plus, Laura's eligibility for the scheme meant her salary would be covered by the Department of Work and Pensions.
Laura would be looked after by the PeoplePlus Kickstart team in Sheffield.
The funded placement allowed St Luke’s to give Laura the opportunity to live with a job, and all that entails, for the first time. Initially, Laura could only allow herself to hope to add some new skills to her CV.
“My first few weeks at St Luke's were challenging. I was incredibly nervous and doubted my skills and abilities. I felt lost.”
This is where the network Laura had gained came in, building on what Work Coach Alison had begun with her referral. As a Kickstarter, Laura could access a variety of Learning Plus online courses, and wellbeing support from People Plus's new wellbeing offer, YouCan, which combined would unpack what the workplace was about, help her work out how it affected her and underpin her new skills with relevant knowledge.
PeoplePlus Kickstart coach Barbara would connect with Laura every month via Teams – offering a sounding board and helping her reflect on her progress. Her new work colleagues at St Luke’s completed the framework.
The foundation for Laura to flourish was there, but the responsibility rested with Laura herself.
Revealing personal strength she didn’t know she had, Laura embraced the unknown. The team at St Luke’s recognised her determination, even if she could not yet see it in herself.
“I decided that I wanted to be able to get the most out of this experience, that I would try my hardest and act as if this was a permanent job role… I was fortunate to have a team of wonderful and caring people to help me.
They helped by pushing me in ways I couldn't, they helped me gain skills confidence… I was working with people who cared which made me work twice as hard. I’d go into work wanting to help the team, I truly felt a part of something… I wanted to give back everything I had received.
“I put a lot of effort into my work, and I wanted to go home at the end of the day feeling as though I had achieved something. It wasn't easy but I knew it was worth it. I was pushing myself to change, to be better and stronger, to not shy away from challenges but face them head on.
I found that after a while I was confident in my role, I knew what I was doing, I had grown very attached to everyone I worked with, both my colleagues and the volunteers at St Luke's.”
By the end of her placement, Laura had become a valued member of the St Luke’s team. This revealed another difficult new experience – preparing to leave one job she had come to love while seeking another.
“I was devastated to be leaving after the 6 months - everyone I worked with wanted me to stay. They said I had been amazing in my role and that I went above and beyond what was expected of me. I gained so much more than being able to write a new CV.”
This wasn’t to be the end of line for Laura and St Luke’s.
“Not long after I left, I was employed for St Luke's in the role of Covering Supervisor, jumping from shop to shop in the Sheffield area. I was told by a lot of people that I had been a hard worker during my Kickstart. I had taken on overtime and nothing was ever too much.”
Laura did not know it at the time, but she sees it now. “I was thrown in at the deep end and swam."
Looking back, I am so glad I decided to take that chance and go for the Kickstart experience. It gave me so much; I had been happy to walk away with just experience and a reference but gained so much more from it. I have come so far in my life, the girl at the start is not the same as the person I am now.
Just recently I opened up one of the St Luke's shops alone, something I can definitely say I wouldn't have been able to do before my Kickstart role.”
In this email to Laura, thanking her for sharing her journey, Kickstart coach Barbara says, "You have been incredibly honest. The depth of your progress demonstrates all your hard work. You are truly inspirational, and anyone reading this will feel that they have a chance, like you to ‘give it a go’.”
Laura is convinced her achievements wouldn’t have been possible without the support she has received.
“Each person had such lovely things to say about me. That encouraged me at a time when I needed it the most... It's not something I will be forgetting anytime soon.
My advice for anyone considering doing a placement would be to take the opportunity and go for it, put in as much effort as you can and believe in yourself because you can achieve so much more than you think you can.”
While Kickstart is coming to an end (last job starts were before 31st of March) there are people in jobs because of Kickstart placements until September. We wish them the very best of luck.
Please share this with anyone who needs it, and let’s keep finding ways to help young people work and learn.
#Kickstart #SocialRecruitmentFramework #LearningPlus #PeoplePlus #employability #skills #equalopportunities #GetBritainWorking