Jenni 40 from Choppington joined Bridge Northumberland in April 2021 after her health Visitor suggested the service might help her returning to work. Jenni had always been in employment, her last job was working in Addiction services but with maternity leave, illness and the COVID lockdowns Jenni was struggling on where to begin her search for a new job.
Jenni had moved from Scotland to Choppington six years earlier with her husband and found work following her move. After taking maternity leave with her first child, Jenni suffered with Post-natal depression and returning to work when she found she was pregnant with her second child. Her employer couldn’t offer her hours around her childcare needs so Jenni found herself out of work just as the first lockdown hit in March 2020. At the same time her husband was put onto reduced hours through the pandemic by his employer. This really impacted on the family’s finances. With no family locally to support them they really began to struggle.
At the first meeting Jenni was allocated a Bridge Worker, Leanne to be her one to one contact. Leanne quickly became as Jenni describes her ‘ our knight in shining armour’. First it was to Citizens Advice to assess the financial situation and to see if any improvements could be made to the family’s finances. There were then immediate issues the family needed help with around the children’s needs. Leanne worked to find solutions to these sourcing things like a car seat and cot bedding. Plus accessing 15 hours free childcare for the youngest in the family.
Leanne also found some financial support for the family through the Bernicia Covid fund grants. The family were eligible due to reduced income in the household so they were awarded a much needed grant payment.
Jenni says “Leanne goes above and beyond to help, she was a constant support the whole time, she really was our knight in shining amour when we needed help.”
With the children needs sorted it was then time to focus on Jenni and what support she might need herself. Leanne referred Jenni to Cygnus Support to get help with her own wellbeing and mental health. Jenni says the sessions with Gemma at Cygnus really helped her deal with her issues around her situation.
With Jenni in a better place herself it was time to look at finding work. Jenni started with support job searching with Joy at the Employment Hub at Morpeth run by our partner Community Action Northumberland. Jobs needed to ideally be term time and part time to fit around childcare. To build Jenni’s confidence in returning to work Leanne suggested volunteering. Jenni was introduced to Lisa at Northumberland CVA for support in a volunteering role. Lisa arranged for Jenni to support in an admin role at Full Circle. Jenni said she enjoyed volunteering and that it was “nice to do something normal.”
It wasn’t long before the job searching paid off and Jenni had an interview for a catering assistant role at Northumberland College. Joy supported Jenni with interview preparation but what to wear for the interview was worrying Jenni. Not being at work for two years and being at home she wasn’t sure if she had anything suitable. Leanne came to the rescue and suggested Smart Works Newcastle. Smart Works will style and dress you for your interview so Leanne arranged for Jenni to go along. Jenni says “it was like a boutique, they dressed me and my confidence soared, it felt like the movie ‘Pretty Woman.”
With the outfit sorted and Jenni’s confidence on a high the interview went well and she was shortlisted to the final two. Sadly for Jenni the other candidate had more relevant experience and was offered the job. Jenni received positive feedback and the employer said that they would get back in touch with her should any more jobs come up.
It was at this time that Full Circle said they wanted to hire Jenni and they offered her a three month paid admin role, Jenni was delighted and accepted. It was then a few weeks later that Northumberland College got back in touch and said they now wanted to offer her the job. Jenni had two jobs to choose from and didn’t know what to do. Leanne helped her with writing down the pros and cons on each and Jenni came to a decision that the job at the college was what she was looking for. It was permanent and fitted around the children and they wanted to work on training her to possibly run courses in the future. Jenni is due to start shortly in her new job and we wish her well for the future.
Leanne says: “it was an absolute pleasure to support Jenni during her time with Bridge. To see her gain confidence and progress right through to employment was fantastic. I wish Jenni all the best for the future – her new employers are extremely lucky to have her on board.”
Jenni says: “Bridge covers so many needs, it’s not just job searching. It’s so beneficial everyone who joins will get something from it.”