Julita* first came to Mustard Tree to get support around employment and to learn new skills. This is an account of how Mustard Tree creates opportunity for anyone looking to make a positive change.
“I felt useless and wanted to do something – I wanted to change something in my life”
“Before I came to Mustard Tree, I spent all day providing for my family – my 12-year-old boy and grand-kids. Spending time with family is so important to me, but I also needed to start something meaningful. I spoke to the Growth Company and told them that I felt useless and wanted to do something – I wanted to change something in my life. They put me on a consultant programme and that’s when I first heard about Mustard Tree.
I wanted to get support around work experience, but also to learn some new skills.
Julita first joined the Freedom Project in September 2019, where she began volunteering on reception, before moving into the charity’s Community Shop.
“After a few weeks, I started to feel more confident, because I continued to develop the skills I already possessed – to be kind, smile, have patience and courtesy – they are indispensable advantages of a good receptionist!”
In-between volunteering days, Julita also began a customer service course, which takes place on-site at the Mustard Tree hub.
“I always find loads of useful resources and advice here”
“I learned skills which are very important in customer service positions – both face to face and over the phone. Most jobs now require a certain level of customer service skills and the six week course really help boost my employability chances – it also gave me hands-on experience through the Mustard Tree shop and Help Desk.
Julita made the most of available courses and classes during her time on the Freedom Project, taking advantage of various on-site activities to help build self-efficacy.
“Their Computer Skills course is ideal if you are new to computers or wanting to increase your skills. This course covers practical skills including using a mouse and keyboard, how to use different programmes such as Word, Excel & PowerPoint, alongside searching the internet and applying for jobs online.
I’ve participated in IT courses and Job Club (because I’m looking for work and a new career) – I always find loads of useful resources and advice here. The team helped me update my CV, learn and practice interview techniques, and provided guidance with completing online job applications. They also have groups from local companies hosting one-off workshops to share employment opportunities and their top tips”.
One such company was the Lowry Hotel, which resulted in Julita enjoying a two-week work experience with the reception team.
“I’d love to get a job on a hotel reception now”.
“Don’t feel worried about coming here – nobody judges you for anything”
“This place has helped me to better understand the people who live on the streets, poor families, who need help, without forgetting that I too have gone through difficult times of life.
A recent example was when a woman came with her child of the same nationality as me, who needed a translator and social support – needing papers to be allowed to live and work in the UK.
I’m so happy that I was able to apply for child benefits and also for pre-settled status, and that there’s no longer a threat of being deported. I knew that she must have been having the same thoughts and stress, so to be able to help her through Mustard Tree was wonderful.
I would say to anyone who wants to come here – don’t feel worried about anything. Nobody judges you for anything.
I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped me get here”.