Hels was a participant on our 15th Employment Preparation Programme and graduated in the summer of 2019. Hels had been an army nurse but found herself sofa surfing when she returned to the UK after having lived in Spain. In her 60s when she joined our Employment Preparation Programme, Hels felt that her age was a huge barrier to finding and keeping work. Whilst on the programme, Hels completed her work experience in our facilities team, and started to gain confidence and purpose. Whilst on the programme she also completed her City & Guilds Award in Business Administration.

Before lock down began, Hels had been working at The Wolseley as part of its front of house team – a role that had been advertised by Only A Pavement Away UK. Following a successful trial shift, Hels secured the job. She became the first female door person on Piccadilly (a title she is, rightly, very proud of!) and a highly valued and respected member of the team.

When lock down started Hels was placed on furlough. Her pay was topped up to 100% via a grant from Only A Pavement Away but losing the structure and purpose of working life was really tough. During lock down, the Employment Academy team set up weekly calls, and kept in regular touch to offer emotional support and practical guidance around coronavirus. With lock down starting to ease, Hels was invited back to work. She had her first shift back on the door at The Wolseley on Saturday night, and couldn’t be happier about it. So happy, in fact, that her smile caught the eye of this Times food critic!

Without the support of our members, we wouldn’t be able to run our Employment Academy or provide the support that many of graduates have relied during the coronavirus crisis. Thank you. We are working on plans to run our next Employment Preparation Programme in a way that is both safe and effective later this year, we’ll share more about this over the coming weeks. We continue to support graduates in getting back to work as lock down eases.  We know this is a challenging time for us all, but if you can make a donation to help our work continue, you can here.