A young person who recently joined the Civil Service Care Leaver Internship scheme talks about how she went from missing any purpose in life to thriving in a meaningful career.
I’m currently an intern in a civil service department. At the moment we are sorting out budgets for personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s such important work. Seeing how the government spends our money has made me really interested in politics.
I felt my life was going nowhere
A year ago, I could not have imagined I’d be in a well-paid full-time job that I really enjoy. Back then it felt like I had no control over my life because I missed out on my education. I’m a Londoner, but for two years I ended up as a total stranger in Manchester at a school for people with emotional and behavioural difficulties. The teachers thought I should be doing GCSEs but the school didn’t have anything on offer.
When I moved back to London it was cramped and stressful living with eight siblings again. I got really depressed. My personal adviser (from the local authority) didn’t understand my mental health issues and I got fed up with telling my story to professionals over and over again. I felt my life was going nowhere.
They were patient and believed in me
Then I was introduced to Drive Forward Foundation. At first, I didn’t make all my appointments with my employment consultant, but he was persistent. He did my CV, sent me jobs, helped complete applications, invited me to events and things started happening. The first exciting opportunity was an interview for a wig making apprenticeship at the English National Opera!
When I heard about the Civil Service Care Leavers Internship, I didn’t have much hope with my level 2 qualifications. But my employment consultant said the way I had sorted out my housing issues and helped my sisters with problems at school demonstrated communication and organisation skills I could showcase in my application. I’d never thought about my life experience like that before, and when I was offered an interview, I couldn’t believe it. Even though I did interview practice and got fitted out with clothes from Smartworks I was so nervous. It was really scary, busy people in suits everywhere and lots of security. I thought there was no way I could be successful.
Four months later everything is different
Since leaving school my daily routine had fallen apart but now there’s no way I’m late for anything. I have to attend daily team meetings, talk to people from different backgrounds, manage diaries, book hotels and travel, file receipts. I enjoy dressing smartly for work and it feels great when my friends see me in a suit. Now I’m constantly reading, writing, typing, my vocabulary is improving; I’m just learning so much and I’ve got my energy back. And it’s such a relief to get monthly pay cheques and sort out my own finances. It’s great to feel confident and independent. Drive Forward Foundation believed in me and now I believe in myself too.