People, Places, Business

Paula’s in from the cold

After thirty years, Paula’s in from the cold at Iceland

Following thirty years of unemployment, the South West Workways project has successfully helped a  Port Talbot resident to find a full time permanent job.

Forty six year old Paula Evans, from Sandfields is now employed at Iceland in Aberafan Shopping Centre thanks to the European funded project.

The South West Workways project is backed by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government. The project is led by Neath Port Talbot Council in collaboration with Bridgend, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Swansea Councils. The project supports people to overcome the barriers which prevent them from finding work.

Having spent years caring for a family member and raising a family, Paula decided it was time to find a job. Low in confidence and out of touch with a working environment, Paula was referred to Workways last summer.

Paula said “I’d had some retail experience years ago after leaving school, but due to my family commitments and responsibilities I found myself without a job until now.

“My confidence was so low. I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to find anybody to employ me” she added.

Following some one-to-one meetings with her Mentor, it was clear to see that Paula was struggling with her self confidence. Workways arranged for Paula to attend a tailored retail customer care and confidence course.

“Workways were such a big help. The courses I attended made a huge difference, and my Mentor, Donna Roberts, was so supportive. Being a total stranger to the job application process, I gained some valuable interview techniques, and was able to complete a few mock interviews” Paula said.

Her confidence growing, Paula showed interest in the seasonal vacancies in Iceland, and decided to apply for a job just in time for Christmas.

Store Manager Nigel Boulton said “Workways have been a great support. It makes the process so much easier to have applicants ready to interview. To be able to trust Workways’ judgement on their available participants makes life a lot easier as a Store Manager.”

Following a successful interview, Paula was offered a position as a Retail Assistant at the Port Talbot store in early November 2013.

“I was over the moon. The group interview was so daunting; I really didn’t think I’d done enough. I couldn’t believe it when I found out. I can’t thank Workways enough. I wouldn’t hesitate a second in recommending them to anybody.” said Paula.

Manager, Nigel Boulton added “Paula is a great member of staff. She was the pick of the bunch from the group we interviewed. To see her confidence and ability grow over the months has been amazing. She’s like a different person now.”

With this collaborative approach well established, Nigel and Iceland are hopeful of conducting a similar recruitment process this year with the support of Workways.

Councillor Ali Thomas, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council said “I am delighted once more to see the continuing success of the Workways Project and I would like to congratulate the latest recipient of this wonderful initiative on their dedication and commitment in attaining their goal. Once again I wish to express my gratitude to everyone involved with South West Workways.”