Margaret, aged 57 from East London, has now got her first full time job in 10 years at M&S Dalston thanks to Business in the Community programme ‘Marks & Start’.
Following a two week placement in the Stratford store, Margaret started working as a Customer Assistant in the newly opened store in Dalston two months ago.
As a single parent of two, Margaret had to give up work as she was not given more flexible hours by her previous employer when she needed them;
“10 years ago when I had my daughter, she was born premature, I had to spend a lot of time looking after her so I had to stop working and stopped looking for work. I then needed to spend time looking after her and I was on my own. I found it really difficult because I needed part time hours to be able to look after my daughter”
The programme is more than just work experience, candidates are given a full induction to give them the confidence to take on a customer-facing role. The induction covers health & safety, manual handling training and in-depth customer service from an experienced member of staff who is assigned to them as a ‘buddy’.
“Marks & Start gave me a zest for working and boosted my confidence because I was actually undertaking work not just learning about it. The placement moulded me to get back into work. To have a job feels like I am dreaming! I was looking for work for so long, and I was really frustrated, I was thinking too much and was in quite a desperate state. I feel great.”
Through ‘Marks & Start’, Margaret is now looking to use her existing qualifications to progress within M&S
“I want to progress within the organisation. I have a degree in Health Policy and I’d like to get involved in health and safety and delivering training to colleagues.”
Sophie Brooks, M&S Head of Employee Experience, said: “Thanks to our partnership with BITC, we are able to offer work placements at many of our stores around the UK to people affected by homelessness who have been struggling to find work. This means that when we open a new store there is a talent pool from which Store Managers can find suitable candidates, like Margaret, to join their team.”
Business in the Community's Ready for Work programme is kindly supported by the players of The People’s Postcode Lottery.