Carolyn was referred into the Bridge Project back in 2017 by Escape Family Support who were supporting Carolyn with a family member.
Before joining Bridge Carolyn was a housewife and carer for her son. She’d previously had jobs in schools when her children were younger. Carolyn heard about Bridge through family support she was receiving at Escape. She was so interested in what the programme offered she signed up straight away!
“Being on the Bridge Project I felt that I belong to something…”
At the age of 52 she felt worthless and wanted to do something but felt that nobody would want to take her on because of her age. She came to Bridge with no CV, no up to date qualifications or IT skills and hadn’t worked for many years. Her marriage had broken down and she had concentrated on her son’s needs and put her life on hold.
Carolyn’s Bridge Worker, Caroline, understood situation, with her knowledge of family dynamics and experience of behaviour patterns she was empathetic and able to help and support her to realise the importance of her own needs, gave her the confidence to move in a new direction in her life, taking small steps and making gradual changes.
“One of the greatest things I have learnt from Caroline is never to be afraid to ask if I don’t know something – not being scared has really boosted my confidence and how I deal daily with people and situations.”
Whilst on the project Carolyn attended a Digital Media Workshop with Baeur Media, created a Pod Cast and got to visit and meet some of the presenters at Metro Radio in Newcastle. She’s had benefit support from our partner Citizens Advice Northumberland, promoted Bridge at job fairs, been interviewed about her experience on both BBC Newcastle and Koast radio and became a peer mentor. She became a volunteer at Escape Family Support and did en gagement work with them.
Through the peer mentoring programme she’s been involved with at Escape she’s also gained qualifications (NVQ) and a City and Guilds L3 in supporting families – something she didn’t think she would ever do.
“Bridge can’t rescue you, they can’t solve all your problems but they put the tools and skills in place to help you get yourself better”.
Carolyn now feels she has independence – before joining the Bridge Project she would be anxious using public transport on her own. But in as an ambassador for Bridge she gained confidence in using public transport, traveling across the county to various events and workshops and fully enjoying the role. Growing in her independence Carolyn decided one day it was time to learn to drive, so she picked up the phone and booked lessons. Now she’s a driver with her own car.
“I feel like the jigsaw is coming together now!”
The next steps were for Carolyn are to get support with CV writing and to start applying for jobs, but Covid hit. With the lockdown in place her job searching was put on hold. She continued with her volunteer role with Escape supporting carers. Often being the only contact some carers would have during the lockdown. She continued volunteering with Escape all through 2020. In December 2020 she became involved with The Northumberland Recovery College, becoming a volunteer for them on a programme over Christmas.
The volunteer roles helped Carolyn come to the decision with the commitments she had at home that a part-time role was more suited to her. IT skills though were still worrying her, they might hold her back. So she engaged with seeking training from Number 28 at Hexham, and has been having sessions to build up her IT knowledge.
Around the same time, Escape asked her to be an observer on interview panel. Carolyn says this gave her a real insight into what an interview was like. A few weeks later a new role was advertised with Escape, who she had been volunteering with. Escape were looking for a Peer Link Worker, a part-time position.
Every one encouraged her to apply, so she completed the online application form and got an interview. Lockdown was in place so the interview was online via a Teams call. Being at home, she says calmed her nerves but the whole process was nerve wracking. The call came later in the day that she had been successful and she was delighted to be offered the role.
Carolyn started in her new job as a Peer Link Worker in April this year, she is loving the role and being able to make a difference. She has overcome her confidence and self-esteem issues to succeed. We wish Carolyn well in her new job.
In her own words, she sums it up with ‘I have been able to better myself’.