Kelly Walsh

Name of delivery partner: Gingerbread
Name of participant: Kelly Walsh

How did Kelly hear about the programme?

Kelly was referred by Burnley Jobcentre.

Behind the scenes

Kelly is a single parent who had been out of work for 15 years before starting the Gingerbread programme. Kelly attended a pre-employment programme with Gingerbread which included a two week work experience placement at Marks & Spencer in Burnley; Kelly completed her placement in October 2017.

Shortly after finishing the programme Kelly applied for work in the café at Boundary Mill, Colne. Kelly was invited for interview and asked Gingerbread for support with interview skills. Kelly attended a coaching session on interview skills with Jo from Gingerbread and following this was offered a vacancy at Boundary Mill.

At the same time as the Boundary Mill job offer Kelly was also offered a short term seasonal contract at Burnley M&S to cover Christmas. Kelly had two job offers to choose from which gave her confidence a big boost. After much deliberation and discussion Kelly decided to take the job at Boundary Mill as it was a permanent contract and was for more hours.

In early 2018, Boundary Mill laid off a number of workers and Kelly was one of those laid off; this was a blow to Kelly and she was quite upset at the time, however to her credit she stayed positive and got back in touch with M&S who had a vacancy in the café. M&S were happy to hear from Kelly and offered her the job; Kelly was able to start work straight away in the café because M&S had classed her as suitable to employ after her placement.

It is now December 2018 and Kelly is still working at M&S. Kelly has worked her way up to a permanent contract working full-time hours in various parts of the store. Kelly still does most of her hours in the café where she works with her sister, Michelle, who came through the programme after Kelly. M&S usually arrange Kelly and Michelle’s shifts so that one of them is free to do the school run; this obviously helps massively with childcare.

Kelly’s story has been used as a good news story by Burnley Jobcentre and the Burnley M&S café is the best performing café in the region; Kelly is proud to be part of the team working at the café.

Kelly’s journey

Kelly had been out of work for fifteen years before starting the Gingerbread programme. Kelly had lots of enthusiasm and motivation however she had low confidence in her ability to gain and keep a job. Kelly said that her dyslexia was one of the main reasons that her confidence was low, as well as her long period without work. Kelly found it difficult to recognise that she had transferrable skills that she could take into the workplace.

Barriers Kelly had to overcome

Kelly is a single parent who had been out of work for 15 years. Childcare was a big barrier in the past but as her children have grown older Kelly has become more motivated to start working. Kelly had low confidence in her ability to gain and keep a job. Kelly was also dyslexic so struggled with reading and writing and felt that this held her back. Kelly was nervous about being in a work environment but was extremely motivated to overcome her fears and change her circumstances.

What interventions and actions did the project undertake with Kelly?

Kelly attended pre-employment training with Gingerbread which covered subjects such as motivation to work, benefits of work, overcoming barriers to work, identifying own employment skills, planning and working towards goals, applying for work, CVs, cover letters and applications, interviews, customer service and M&S requirements. Also one to one coaching with the opportunity for tailored support – Kelly had support with interview skills before her Boundary Mill interview. Kelly attended a two week work placement at Burnley M&S whose manager is very supportive of the project. While on placement Kelly gained experience in food preparation, cleaning and serving customers. Kelly also received support and motivation over the phone, especially after being laid off at Boundary Mill which was quite disheartening for her.

How has Kelly benefited from being involved?

Kelly is now in full time employment at M&S and has worked there for almost a year. She says that her confidence has improved; she has received excellent feedback from customers who now ask for her in store, she has a larger social circle and her children benefit from seeing her work. Kelly plans to stay at M&S but said that if she did have to look for another job she would be much more confident about it.

Kelly is currently a Customer Assistant at M&S Burnley (including café).

What skills has Kelly learned?

Kelly has gained skills and experience in both the Boundary Mill and the M&S cafés; serving customers, food hygiene and cleanliness, preparing food, serving customers and operating the till. Kelly has also worked in other areas of the store and is now seen as a key worker who is flexible in all parts of the store. Kelly plans to stay in retail as she is really enjoying it.

What are the Kelly’s future plans?

Kelly has a permanent contract at M&S and plans to continue working there.

What did Kelly have to say about the programme?

Kelly stated that she has loved the programme, would recommend it to anyone and would do it all again.