Tony

Tony was referred to The Hope Foundation by Step Forward Tees Valley to work towards Functional Skills Maths Level 2.

He says, “I wanted to improve my skills and confidence to get back to working life! I had a full career and had worked all of my life – personal circumstances changed and I found life spiralling out of my control. Times were hard and often I had thought ‘what’s the point and felt worthless. I started learning whilst still experiencing personal difficulties. Then came COVID which really scuppered my plans.”

On the first day “I was really nervous and anxious – I spoke to Kim (careers adviser), before coming to the Hope Foundation, over the phone. Kim explained what to expect and what would happen at induction. All of the staff made me feel welcome – I have found the staff both kind and respectful and ready to listen and offer support. The Hope Foundation asked what help and support I needed and we agreed discussion with my tutor and to have breaks when I felt overwhelmed.

I only had a mobile phone so couldn’t access remote learning during the covid lockdowns. The Digital Library supported with a device and technical support; something that I could not afford and gave me a lifeline to learn and access services online. This was a great help as I could still access learning and other support services.
I had been told from my navigator that they The Hope Foundation had small classes and remote learning options but there is so much more to the place!

I am a different person to the man that stepped through the door on my first day! I looked forward to my classes and attending. Attending and learning at Hope gave me confidence to move forward.

I have achieved confidence and skills to move forward and now volunteer in a reception and caretaker role in a community venue.”

Sara R

Sara arrived in the UK from Iran in 2020. “In Iran I am a highly qualified and competent ITU nurse now a resident in the UK and eager to progress. I was extremely emotional and anxious as I had come from a position that I was recognised as being a leader in my field to now not be able to work due to my language barrier. I wanted to quickly learn the English Language and Maths to meet entry requirements for the NHS service as well as communicate in the Middlesbrough community.”

On the first day “I was really anxious of my inability to communicate effectively and speak the language – I remember being greeted at reception with a smile and someone with patience and the ability to communicate regardless of my language. I also met Kim the Careers Advisor on my first day and to be welcomed by such a warm personality and to ease my worries and give me reassurance is something I will not forget.

I believed in my plan from day 1 – Kim supported me to know the routeway back into medicine and, although I felt quite helpless at the time, the plan helped me to focus on goals of qualifications and volunteering until my language skills and abilities were such to pass the level of IELTS exam required.

Georgia, my tutor, encourages me and makes me believe in myself – all staff would take the time to speak with me and when I was down reassured me again.

My experience at The Hope Foundation has been a supported and positive one. The Hope Foundation staff – volunteers and class mates have made such a difference to my life. I look forward to my days of learning and feel hopeful and positive I can reach my goals in the not-so-distant future!”

Sara has achieved entry level Functional Skills qualifications in English and Maths. She is working towards level 1 English and has secured a voluntary role with the NHS at James Cook University Hospital

“I can now see my pathway back into medicine and believe that this is possible – I am travelling up the mountain instead of being at the bottom.”

My Success Story: Rachel

My story really began in 1993 when I started senior school. In school I really tried to fit in as I always felt growing up that I never really fit in anywhere. I never really tried in school and jumped class whenever I possibly could. I left when I was 15 and I’d fallen pregnant with my oldest daughter. I did not sit any exams and so left school with no qualifications. After school I had problems with drugs and abusive relationships but eventually I got out of these and looked to the future.

For the past 5 years, I have been a stay at home mum with my children until my youngest child Layla turned 5 and I went on to claim job seekers allowance. This was scary and I felt really depressed by it. But no matter how scared and nervous and new and frightening it was I was going to tackle it head on no matter what. The job centre put me on a work programme with triage. I was terrified the first time I met my advisor Julie at triage but I asked her to put me on a computer course and she sent me to the Hope Foundation.

I did a maths and English assessment to find out which course would be best suited to me. I then started an IT for work course and that was it: I was addicted. Sarah, who runs the course, with her helpers Anthony and Barry, was so welcoming and supportive. I started using the computers and quickly realised that I knew more than I thought about them. Since starting the course my confidence has gone from strength to strength and I look forward to coming to the Hope Foundation every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My tutor Sarah has sent me some lovely e-mails telling me that she was impressed by my computer skills which I saved in my favourites in my e-mail and whenever I’m feeling like I’m not good at anything I take a look at that e-mail and it makes me feel so much better about things. The people who I have met at the Hope Foundation have also helped to make my experience here a magical one everyone is so welcoming and friendly it is just like one big happy family and I couldn’t be happier.

Sarah my tutor has said I could apply to volunteer in the Hope Foundation once my IT for work course has finished. I will also enrol in further maths and English courses so that I can complete gain certificates stating that I have passed these courses so we can make me a record of achievement as I never got one in school.

I am feeling very positive about my future and future employment I may gain whether it is paid work or voluntary work that will benefit me also in gaining new skills for mine and my children’s bright future ahead.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

Mandy

Mandy came to Hope in February 2020 to achieve Level 2 English and Maths and find work in Health and Social Care and Data Entry. She is part of a blended family which speaks several languages and found that helping children with homework and general language questions were proving challenging. Mandy wanted to support them the best she could. She didn’t want to go to a College and was looking for somewhere smaller.

Mandy says that on her first day, “I remember being part of a diverse group of people – this excited me to see that everyone was different”. She and Kim looked not only at learning but got to work on Mandy’s CV. “[It] was a bonus to be introduced to start looking at a career… The I Could Buzz Quiz – gave me some surprise strengths and interests and I started looking at entry requirements for careers as opposed to admin jobs.”

Mandy achieved Functional Skills Maths and English at Level 2 and says her ICT skills also improved as she completed much of her Maths course remotely during covid. But not only this, she also says her confidence and mind-set has changed, “it made me realise to aim higher and that I could achieve! Family life had always come first – my family are growing up and progressing themselves and I now have the time and also want that. I want to set a motivated example.”

Mandy is now on an Access to Higher Education course and aims to become an Engineer.
“I can’t recommend enough to others to access support and learning with The Hope Foundation – It’s supported me to realise my potential.”

Mark

Mark was working in the construction agency when he first came to The Hope Foundation in 2019. He held a precarious role as a subcontractor and had mostly short-term domestic work which meant he also relied on benefits. Mark wanted to progress within the construction industry. His aim was to become a Health and Safety Inspector in construction which would also mean more regular work and secure employment.

At his first appointment with Kim they researched the job role Mark was looking for, the entry requirements and skills he would need. They then devised a Skills Action Plan planning which skills he would need to work on and which qualifications he would need to gain. Mark would study towards Functional Skills English and ECDL at The Hope Foundation. Though ICT wasn’t a direct requirement for the role, having ICT skills and a qualification would be an advantage for him in securing work and also being able to do this new job effectively.

In order to make the move to work on larger construction and engineering sites, Kim referred Mark to Routes to Work who helped him achieve some of the essential entry requirements: CCNSG (site safety passport) and a CSCS card.

They worked together to create a CV and cover letter so he would be able to approach employers speculatively and Kim introduced Mark to LinkedIn with Advice and Guidance on how to create an effective profile, using his research to ensure this profile matched the entry requirements for the job he was aiming for, CV and cover letter to find work.

For just over a year, Mark attended courses at Hope and received support from Kim, National Careers Services, Routes to Employment and partner organisations. Since August 2020 he has been fully qualified and in full-time, secure employment as a Health and Safety Inspector in logistics.

Neil

Neil* (not his real name)

Neil heard about the Hope Foundation from Saint John of God. He had to move to Middlesbrough during the covid pandemic and found himself isolated in a new place.

He came to The Hope Foundation wanting to gain qualifications, find our about volunteering opportunities and get connected. He says, “The conversation with Kim was so much more. We talked about my long term and future goals in football coaching and Kim gave advice and guidance on the different sectors that this opens for me such as supporting others in difficult situations using sport. We started with Kim completing a CV to apply for voluntary positions and introducing me to MFC Foundation a support organisation for people like myself to make new contacts through sport. We also talked about entry requirements that employers would be looking for as well as experience and I now know the steps and links to be made to achieve this.

Kim referred me to the Hope Digital Library as I had expressed motivation and interest to learn but I only have a mobile phone device. David dropped off a laptop.

The Hope Foundation has made a big difference to my mental health; connecting me to my goals by informing me of the opportunities available in the Middlesbrough area. I moved to the area around September last year and because of lockdown felt excluded being in a new town and not knowing the services available. The Hope Foundation has help me to understand the steps I need to take to get there and feel more positive about my future and how I can progress.”

Neil went on to study for qualifications with Hope and now volunteers in a community football session and is working towards an FA Playmaker Award with MFC Foundation.

Gordon

My name is Gordon and it’s a very simple story how I came to be learning at Hope. I was working as an agency driver for quite a few years driving HGV’s but after a few years the driving work was starting to become scarce and I was only working 3-4 days a week. One of the firms I was working for over the Christmas period asked me (out of the blue) if I was looking for permanent work. I said ‘yes’, of course, as most of the other regular jobs were drying up so I jumped at the chance to work full-time for a local company.

This is where my connection with the Hope Foundation began. The shift manager at the time said, ‘great! All you have to do is fill in the online application form. Then they will send you a start date by email then you’re off and running. You might as well do it now, use that computer.’

This is where my problems started. I explained to the manager that I hadn’t got a clue about computers, never mind an email address! He thought I was joking. It was very embarrassing. The only job applications I had ever filled out were with a pen and paper! Anyway, he was great about it and did the online application for me. After this I made up my mind that I needed to, at least, learn the basics of computers.

A short while later I was driving into Middlesbrough and I passed the Hope Foundation. Plastered on the side of the building was a massive poster saying ‘Learn IT here’. I thought ‘here is my chance to learn about computers’ and I went and made enquiries. They told me they did a Wednesday night class for beginners and that’s how I started to learn about computers.

Now, I won’t say it’s been easy fitting my learning in around my work patterns but I’ve stuck at it and The Hope Foundation have really gone out of their way to help me learn. The great thing about Hope is that you are not judged on what you can or cannot do. The tutors and volunteers help you to learn in a fun, relaxed and friendly way and after a few weeks you suddenly realise you can use a computer! Not like an expert maybe but enough to know your way around one and the knowledge grows every time you attend class.

I admit it hasn’t been easy but my tutors have been able to help me fit learning in around my work commitments. I have now completed and achieved my L2 ITQ ECDL and am moving on to improving my English and Maths skills. If it hadn’t been for the Hope Foundation I would still be in the dark about computers now.

If you are thinking about learning IT I would definitely recommend the Hope Foundation above any other training provider. Come and give it a try, what have you got to lose? You’ll probably find that you have a great deal to gain. Thank you.