From City Gateway Service User to respected Staff Member
Following a Customer Service course at City Gateway, Fatima was accepted onto a traineeship at IBM. She dramatically grew in confidence and was inspired to take on an apprenticeship at Kitchen 32.
"I had no hope because I'd left education. But when I saw that through City Gateway I'm getting a job, I'm getting a qualification and I'm in an environment where I feel safe."
What was your life like before City Gateway?
We moved to Shadwell in 2007 from Bangladesh and my one dream since then has been to be a police officer. I was good at sports and everything was going smoothly in my life. But then my dad died and everything was falling apart for me. I had to look after my family as my mum wasn't working then and my sister was in college. All we had to live on was what mum got in child benefits and widow's allowance.
Depression hit me hard after my father passed away, I started smoking and I drank as well. I could see myself going down the drain. I saw people who inspired me but I couldn't live up to their expectations because I thought I can't do it.
I had enough of A Levels as I knew they weren't getting me anywhere. I dropped out. I didn't know what to do.
What was your experience at school?
I'd been in a school where there were only girls. I wasn't able to mix with people and I was so nervous. I did Health and Social Care; Art; and Psychology. I wanted to know more about human minds as it would help me with my dream of policing. For a few months it was ok, but when the exams started I realised I might enjoy it but I was getting D's and E's - not something that would give me a pass. Art was the first thing I had to drop as it consumed so much time and I didn't have that much time because I had to look after my family.
Why did you come to City Gateway?
I'd unintentionally dropped out with two of my friends and we didn't know what to do. We heard from our friends about City Gateway. We heard about the apprenticeship offers. But my mum was against apprenticeships but I thought I'd try City Gateway. The three of us got into the same course, starting on the same day in Customer Service. I'm getting to learn and work at City Gateway and I am learning at NVQ Levels 2 & 3. It has changed my life.
How do you think City Gateway has changed your life?
When I joined City Gateway, I had no hope. I could see my future of being a police officer fading. I thought I would never be able to achieve it because I left education. What is there for me? I literally had no hope. But like they say, City Gateway brings hope. It actually comes true.
What's been your journey at City Gateway and how have you overcome any problems or barriers?
I started on the Customer Service course even though it has nothing to do with my future dream. I wanted to give it a go. It helped balance me. I'm not a trouble maker but I do things to entertain people that are not beneficial for me in the future. I did those and I realised on the course that there is no point in my doing so. So I thought, let's keep banter and education balanced. There so much about customer service through the work experience in at Kitchen 32, I didn't just travel 100%, I travelled 111%.
My retention worker suggested I took the IBM traineeship. I did. Did it boost my confidence to another level? Yes it did! It was amazing because it helped me with my presentation skills. My confidence to talk to people higher up than me grew. Once I got the hang of it and I loved it.
What made you decide to take an apprenticeship in Kitchen 32 and how are you finding it?
After taking the IBM course, I could clearly see my future again – of being a police officer. But I was missing a middle step.
I'm a practical learner and I'm a visual person. I can't just sit down for long and work. Everyone used to like having me around as I gave excellent customer service (thanks to the Customer Service course!).
So I thought an apprenticeship was the best thing. I went for it. I started two/three weeks before my actual starting date. I started working and I liked it. I did my best.
"I thought maybe it's time to reach for my goal. It's not too late yet."
Every morning I wake up and want to go in. I have never in my life said that I don't want to go in. Even in my holidays, my weekday off days, I just love working. I don't like sitting down much! On my off days my colleagues cheer me up, so it's a nice kind environment and I love it. And I've learnt that even though admin is not my strongest side and I don't really particularly like it, if it is something that I should do, I will do it, I will do my best.
I had no hope because I'd left education but when I saw that I'm getting a job, I'm getting a qualification done and I'm in a nice environment which I feel safe about, I thought maybe it's time to reach for my goal. It's not too late yet. So you know, if it's not too late, why give up hope? If someone has given you hope, you have a dream, all you have to do is stand up and walk towards it. And work your way up. I thought you know what; maybe I'll just try it. I'm not a quitter, I shouldn't be a quitter. I can do it.