‘For seven years I was indoors. I didn’t meet any new people. Everything erased from my mind. I thought I’m not capable.’

Anika came to the UK from Bangladesh when she was a child. She was married at a young age before she was able to complete her GCSEs. She had five children and became very isolated.

She says, ‘I lost confidence for a few years. My husband told me I’m not worth it; [and told me] that I can’t do any admin job or proper job. He said you don’t have any degree, you can’t do any professional job.’

As these messages were repeated to her regularly over a long period of time she found herself believing that she “wasn’t worth it” and would never get a job. She explains how ‘your confidence level can break down into pieces’ when someone you live with underlines your supposed ‘worthlessness’ every day.

‘City Gateway Women’s Programmes is too good to be true… it’s amazing!’

Her life at home was very difficult. At a point when Anika was particularly low, her parents brought her to City Gateway Women’s Programmes. ‘This place helped me to see the world in a new way,’ Anika reflects. ‘This environment is perfect for those who need a boost to take the first step. I can’t explain how much I feel grateful. It’s really hard to take the first step- you have to find the right place’.

She was able to study Customer Service with Beauty and Functional Skills English Entry Level 3 and Level 1, alongside several other courses at City Gateway.

For Anika, City Gateway was ‘the right place’ to help her build confidence and realise the dreams that she had for her life.

At City Gateway Anika improved her English, grew in confidence and acquired customer service skills. She began to feel empowered to venture into the world of work.

*Name changed to protect identity

*Photography represents City Gateway, but does not depict the individual featured in the story