From education to employment

Self-belief and training lands Claire her dream job

Believing anything is possible and capitalising on the learning journey has landed Claire Thompson the job she always wanted. 

A former Residential Care Worker, Claire has now secured the role as Fundraising Manager of the David Lewis Centre in Cheshire and attributes much of her success to hard work and the apprenticeships she has completed over the years, which have supported her in climbing the career ladder. 

Claire explained: “For someone who left home at 15 and started doing voluntary work in a nursing home, this is something I would never have dreamed of.

“The road to the position I’m in hasn’t been without immense challenges, both personally and professionally, but it’s a great place to be and shows what anyone, no matter what their circumstances are, can achieve.”

Claire, who has just completed her Level 5 Leadership and Management apprenticeship with Progress to Excellence Ltd, described herself as “doing the best she could” at school and getting good grades before opting to work on a voluntarily basis in a nursing home.

Her goal was to become a manager of a residential care home so she undertook her level 2 and level 3 health and social care apprenticeships to support herself as she strived to achieve her ultimate career goal. However, as her level 5 approached, her confidence started to waver. 

She said: “By this time, I was working at the David Lewis Centre at Warford, near Alderley Edge in Cheshire, and realised every job I aspired to required level 5. I simply needed the qualification to move my career forwards.

“The trouble was I didn’t have the confidence to do it. I had the motivation and wanted to complete the work – I just lacked the self-belief that I would be able to do the work expected of me and felt I didn’t have the knowledge or skill-set to complete any of it. I’m also one of those people who seem to fall to pieces in exams.

“I even applied for a Residential Manager’s post and didn’t get it as it was clear my lack of knowledge and confidence at the interview let me down, so much so that I said I would never go through another interview.”

However, all that changed after Claire met Maggie, her tutor at Progress to Excellence Ltd. Claire says Maggie “refocused” her mind-set to look at questions differently.

Claire continued: “Maggie was very realistic about time frames and supported me on the occasions when I felt I was unable to complete units. There was also a time when I was really poorly and felt I really had to give up – but Maggie set me straight and got me through the whole process.

“Once I got the first few assessments completed, my confidence grew and I found I was doing my Team Leader role at the centre in a more effective way. I started to be the person that other staff would ring asking for help and support. That was the moment that I had more self-belief.”

Completing the apprenticeship then brought strength to Claire’s Team Leader role at the David Lewis Centre, enabling her to run shifts more effectively and support staff in a more responsive way. She also learned about the sort of leader she was and how she needed to adapt her own leadership styles.

But it was the confidence boost that was crucial to Claire’s next step on the career ladder when applying for a new job at the centre.

She said: “I applied for the Fundraising Manager post even though this sort of job was, I thought, way beyond me. But I decided to have a go simply to get some interview experience as well as feedback as to how I’d performed.

“I genuinely couldn’t believe it when I was offered the post on the spot. Never in a million years would I have expected something like this to happen to me. The job is amazing as I’m now working on budgets, thinking on my feet and developing fundraising ideas. I also deal with legacies and donations, liaising with families – even meeting multi-millionaires at business fairs.

“My career change has been rapid and it is all down to the confidence I gained on my training journey with Progress to Excellence. My job and earning prospects have massively increased too because of the huge opportunities open to me now in the charitable fundraising sector.

“Importantly, gaining the level 5 apprenticeship has given me the key skills to be a successful manager as well as gaining the knowledge to pass on and help others who are learning.”

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