“I’ll tell you a little secret,” says Margaret Jamison, who lives in East Belfast. “With my first week’s wages I finally bought something for myself. Not for my boys, not for the house but for me. I got a little charm for my bracelet and I picked a pair of angel wings.”
Margaret is a single mother and was a homemaker as her two sons were growing up. Now aged 65, Margaret dreamt of finding a job and came to the Work and Wellbeing programme for help to make her dream come true.
Work and Wellbeing is delivered across Belfast, Lisburn, Bangor and Newtownards by Ingeus. 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 spent 30 years as a single mum bringing up my family,” said Margaret. “I got them to school on time and filled my days with housework and talking to my neighbours. Now they are grown-up, I felt that I should be doing more for myself. I was dreading trying to find work because I thought, who would want someone of my age?
“I met my advisor and she was interested in me, in fact she became very much part of my journey to find work. She helped me to fill in job application forms and convinced me that anyone, of any age and background, has valuable skills to offer an employer. My life has meant that I’ve had to be very organised and self-sufficient. I’m friendly and experienced in handling money; all good skills to take to a job in retail.
“I went on different courses including a week long inclusion event that was held at a cookery school. I loved it, we all got on and it helped me to socialise again. I felt that I was back in the community and my confidence was improving all the time.”
Margaret was supported in her application to work in a large retail outlet. She was successful and her responsibilities now include working as a cashier on the tills, stocking the shelves and dealing with shopper enquiries.
“I enjoy my work and I love meeting the customers,” added Margaret. “The best thing about being employed is finally having enough money to know that my bills are going to be paid and there is food in the cupboards. I didn’t let things stop me but without the help from Work and Wellbeing, I would never have got my job. If you are unemployed, just go for it!”