Sophie (22) from Hadston was referred to Bridge in April 2021 by the Job Centre in Amble. Sophie had found looking for work difficult since leaving College, made worse by the disruption cause by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In her first meeting with Angela, her one-to-one Bridge Worker, it was clear that Sophie was very introverted with confidence and self-esteem issues meaning she rarely left home. These difficulties would have to be overcome to help her in her search for work.
Sophie felt she might like to work with children. Unfortunately, the Covid lockdowns meant she missed out on a local opportunity to do a volunteer placement at a nursery in Hadston. Sophie told Angela about her course at Northumberland College and a placement at Kirkley Hall working with animals. Talking further Angela discovered Sophie liked the countryside, animals and enjoyed walks and taking photographs and that nature is where she feels most comfortable. They agreed that this could be an area to develop.
Sophie was assigned a Bridge Buddy, Vanessa, to support her to build her self-esteem, develop her confidence to traveling independently. Bridge Buddies are volunteers that work in a supportive role with people undertaking a Bridge programme. The Buddies are organised and run by one of our partners Northumberland CVA.
Gordon, one of the project’s long-standing buddies explains, “After retiring I wanted to give a little back to the community. Being a volunteer buddy has allowed me to do this while improving the employment prospects of the volunteers I support. For those I have supported on a weekly basis I have seen each and every one of them grow in confidence, until for some they are perfectly capable of working unsupported”.
Vanessa met with Sophie for regular local walks and encouraged her to travel further afield supporting her in using public transport. During the walks Sophie would take photographs. Sophie has an eye for a good picture and was encouraged to publish the photos on Instagram and now has over 150 followers. Publishing her photos has been a real boost to Sophie’s self-esteem and her interest is helping her overcome difficulties and build the confidence to take her next steps.
Every Bridge programme is individual, built around the participant through one-to-one conversations to agree a starting point and the next steps. Developing her interest in photography has helped Sophie build confidence to now engage with more of the Bridge programme and gain from the services offered by Bridge Partners. We wish her luck on her journey.