Over recent weeks our young women on the WeMindTheGap programmes in Flintshire, Wrexham and Manchester have shown how they are facing the challenges that this pandemic brings with maturity, flexibility and resilience, all while looking after each other. Hannah is one of those amazing young women. She joined the WeMindTheGap Flintshire programme in October 2019. Here are her words to describe the programme and her experiences over the past six months:
Hello, my name is Hannah and I have just completed the WeMindTheGap 2019 Flintshire programme. I’m here to tell you all about the programme from my perspective!
Each year, WeMindTheGap welcomes ten young women to the six-month paid programme to help them enter the world of work. Over the six-months you will experience five placements in different working environments. You get full support from your ‘Big Sister’ and ‘Aunty’ who are there to support and guide you, making the process as easy as possible.
The programme has enabled me to leave the house without experiencing panic attacks for the first time in two years. I was able to make friends with girls who were also struggling with the same things as me and I got to jump off a pier (but I’ll tell you more about that in a second). I had the opportunity for lifetime experiences and got paid while doing it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ‘fixed’, I’m not yet anxiety-free, but I’m more ‘me’ again and that is because of WeMindTheGap.
Now let me tell you a little bit about what is actually involved. You kick-start the programme by going away to a picturesque country house and learning a bit more about each other and yourself. Then you’re taken to Outward Bound (an outdoor activity centre) for a few days where you can learn to canoe and abseil, spend the night in a cabin in the woods (not as creepy as it sounds) and yes…jump off a pier. You’re pushed to the edge mentally and physically and, even though we all couldn’t wait to get home to our own showers, everyone left feeling proud that we all survived. You’ll get the chance to try things like indoor snowboarding at the Chill Factore, wheelchair basketball and axe throwing. You also have a chance to go to college and achieve your Maths and English, earn qualifications in first aid, food safety and cooking. See it as a second chance for things you might not have seen as important before. Your typical week is Monday to Thursday. Every Monday you spend together with the girls and your Aunty and Big Sister preparing for work and having coaching, followed by an afternoon activity. Then from Tuesday to Thursday morning you go to your placement, with Thursday afternoon spent learning Essential Skills with a great tutor from Coleg Cambria followed by a physical activity.
I mentioned the five placements over six-months: there are a variety of placements such as childcare, manufacturing, catering, admin and office work, care work and even leisure. If you have no idea what you’re good at or interested in, then this is a great opportunity to dive into new working environments and just have a go.
Your Aunty and Big Sister are incredibly patient and are there to support you 24/7. They do every activity right beside you. They will take you to your first day at each placement, help you with applications and take your phone calls, rain or shine. You will also be assigned your very own life coach. I was paired with a lovely lady who understood my anxieties with time management and lists! They’ll be there to help talk about what career paths you’re interested in and point you in the right direction. If that’s not enough, WeMindTheGap can also provide professional counselling for those of us that need that little extra support.
You might be thinking that six-months doesn’t sound like a long time to get your life in order? But don’t worry because when you finish the first six months with WeMindTheGap you move onto BeyondTheGap. In this you’ll have loads of support still, as well as access to additional coaching sessions, several paid Friday catchups with trips to Manchester and Liverpool learning more about businesses and how they are run. You also have the choice to achieve a Bronze Award in the DofE. Basically, you don’t just get dropped and expected to find a job.
When I joined the WeMindTheGap family, I was told this wasn’t just a six-month programme. And that’s right. It’s a programme for life – if you need it. The friends I’ve made on the programme are the first people I go to tell good news or get advice. My Aunty and Big Sister are so much more than managing me and my payslip, they are genuine friends that hopefully I can annoy for a very long time.
I’m Hannah and six-months ago I was a little bit lost, with zero motivation and life destroying anxiety. I’m getting better because of this programme and the people…so why don’t you?
Are you a young woman aged between 18-25? Do you live in Flintshire, Wrexham or Manchester? Are you struggling with getting back into work or even starting the search? If so apply to WeMindTheGap. The charity is looking forward to be starting new programmes in Flintshire, Wrexham and Manchester in the Autumn.