Before joining the programme, Vicky, 24 from Hyde, was in a very bad place, struggling with severe anxiety and OCD in addition to undiagnosed mental health issues, which doctors say are most likely Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, or both.
Diagnosed in 2014, Vicky felt that her life had fallen through.
Yet, despite the diagnosis, Vicky was still desperate to find work. She says, “I was applying for so many jobs that I wasn’t even thinking about what I was applying for. I wanted to work so bad that I just kept on trying and I was just hoping that I was going to find a place where I can manage and where I can do it.”
Desperate to work, Vicky started a retail job in January, but after two and a half days, her anxiety became too much and she had to leave.
It was after another failed job application that Vicky first met Nicholas, her Talent Coach at Peak Valley Housing Association. After unsuccessfully applying for an apprenticeship with Peak Valley, Nicholas got in touch to invite her to take part in Greater Manchester Talent Match.
Vicky explained, “You know how you feel after an interview, and you’re a bit depressed, a bit sad and a bit disappointed. I just looked at it and thought, ‘Why not?’ I could do with all the help I can get, really.”
Vicky signed up with Nicholas, who Vicky describes as “a breath of fresh air” in March this year. Nicholas was able to offer moral support in the areas where Vicky felt least confident and offered her the chance to look at where her priorities were.
After another unsuccessful attempt at working in retail, where Vicky lasted four shifts, she fell into a depression.
She said, “Every time I gave up on a job like that, I fell more and more into depression because I felt like my inside voice was telling me that I’m not good enough for anything. Nicholas helped me to get out of that frame of mind. That it’s in the past, it’s not what I can do and he helped me to move on forwards and look for something that’s more for me.”
It was at this time that the Greater Manchester Talent Match Project Team were recruiting for a new apprentice based at Greater Manchester Youth Network (GMYN).
As a delivery partner of the Greater Manchester Talent Match Programme, GMYN were keen to make their recruitment process as accessible as possible for those who were applying.
Alex Fairweather, Chief Executive of GMYN said, “It was so important to us, given the work that we do on Greater Manchester Talent Match, that everything about the recruitment process was as youth-friendly as possible.
We worked with GMCVO - who lead on the programme - to make sure of that, taking into account the specific needs and possible barriers of those who may apply.
Vicky was the best person for the job, and it’s made all the more special because she’s been through, and is still supported by, the programme she will be helping to deliver.”
Vicky found out that she had got an interview for the position a few days before the Career Inspiration Event and took the opportunity to speak to the employers in attendance about her upcoming interview.
On the day of the interview, all candidates were welcomed to the office by members of the Youth Panel, where they had a chance to read through the interview questions before taking part in a panel-led interview.
Vicky said, “It was definitely different from other interviews. Having the Youth Panel there to meet and greet helped. The questions were similar to other interviews, so I was able to prepare well to answer them.”
Nicholas Mockridge, Talent Coach at Peak Valley, said: “This is what makes Talent Match so unique. I’ve never worked for a project where I can engage in such positive dialogue with an employer to ensure the young person is going to do well”.
The interview panel were so impressed by Vicky that she only had to wait forty minutes for a phone call confirming that she had got the job. She has now been working on the project for over two months and is loving every day.
She said, “It’s a world of a difference – a few worlds of difference, actually! The state I was in in March, I didn’t want to be here anymore. I didn’t see the point in anything. But because I have so many people who love me, who I am very thankful for I pushed through it.”
“I’ve grown in confidence, massively and everyone I work with has been so supportive.”
“The first two weeks were a massive struggle because it’s usually at that time I give up and with my anxiety – I was very close to giving up – but because of the support I got, it pushed me through it.”
Having now worked alongside Vicky for two months, Alex Fairweather, Chief Executive of GMYN added, “The whole team at GMYN are so happy to have Vicky on board. She has fit into the organisation remarkably well and is consistently proving herself to be a hugely valuable member of the team. Vicky brings enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and a real passion to help everybody out”.
Vicky concluded, “I feel happy for the first time in a very long time and I feel I’m doing something that is making a difference – even a little bit- and that’s all I’ve always wanted to do is to make a difference in one way or other.”
“I’m not the kind of person who can be stuck in a retail job. Some people thrive on it – but I wasn’t going to thrive in that environment. I’m learning and growing every single day and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here.”