Selling cards and small gifts in a city centre shop in Belfast is pure delight for Charlene Peters because she sees every sale as the start of a celebration or a heartfelt gesture to tell the recipient that someone is thinking of them.
“Cards and the verses inside can be so very meaningful,” explained Charlene who landed her new job after receiving support from the Work and Wellbeing programme in Northern Ireland which is delivered by Ingeus. “I just love working here and I feel very lucky to be selling such lovely things to the customers who are so appreciative.”
Thirty-seven-year-old Charlene decided to return to part-time work as her two children are now older and she felt there were more career opportunities available to her, but she wanted support to improve her job-seeking skills and to boost her confidence.
Charlene was referred to Work and Wellbeing that runs across Belfast, Lisburn, Bangor and Newtownards. It is financed by the Department for Communities’ Steps 2 Success programme and offers one-to-one employability support to long term unemployed jobseekers and people with health conditions.
“I was certainly feeling nervous but the employment advisors were so lovely and friendly,” recalled Charlene. “They helped me to prepare my CV and I was able to take part in mock interview sessions that really improved my self-confidence. When I learned that a card shop in town had advertised for more staff, I was able to walk into the premises and give them my new CV.
“They rang me back the same day and I went for an interview a day or so later - and was offered the job. I was over the moon and I started work the next week.”
At the moment the card shop is closed due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Charlene has been reassured that she can return to work when the shop is allowed to open.