Before I came to City Gateway I was very different to who I am today. I was struggling with my mental health and didn’t have the confidence to portray myself as the person I am. With low confidence and self-esteem I was trying to balance pressure from my family and their expectations, with what I was actually able to do. As a result, my ambitions kept changing, one minute I wanted to work for the civil service, the next I wanted to work in IT. Ultimately I just felt like I didn’t have a purpose.

Through school and my GCSE’s I found coping mechanisms like journaling and mind dumps and tried to slow the pace a bit to help me cope. It wasn’t until a few years later I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Knowing I needed to get my functional skills level two, someone told me about City Gateway. I had a look at the website and saw videos of people who had been exactly where I was now, lost in life. I was attracted by the hope they gave me.

Still being in the midst of the pandemic I started my employability classes remotely which for me was actually a great way to ease in. I wasn’t so comfortable at that time being face to face with people as I’m an introvert and it used to drain my energy speaking to people. I was also in a mindset of feeling I couldn’t find people who understood me and what I wanted to do.

“But then I met my coach Darach. I told him about my mental health and he listened, something I felt I hadn’t had in a long time, someone to listen and understand. With Darach’s support I worked a lot on my self-development and started to better myself.

Being around people who cared for and supported me helped motivate me to want to be the best person I can be. From advise on how to perform in an interview, to my English teacher Sharon really pushing me and being so determined I had what it took to pass my English, which I did first time, City Gateway gave me life. In a way I was dead before but that all changed when I came to City Gateway.

In employability Elena taught me how to do a CV, personal statement, how to apply for jobs, interview training (including constructive feedback), basically giving me the right mindset for job hunting.

My work experience placement was with IBM. I was really pushed out of my comfort zone. To begin with I wasn’t really talking much but I started to realise skills I didn’t know I had, skills such as problem solving, teamwork, being analytical. About half way through the first week I opened up and even surprised myself with my ability to present to the rest of the group at the end. One of the good things I took away from this was my mentor. I’m actually still in contact with them and would class them as a friend as well as a mentor now.

When I finished I applied for lots of jobs, even having 10 interviews in one week! But it paid off and I got a kickstart job for a small company doing SEO. There were times I wanted to quit but I needed to work and even made friends there. I kept reading all the time and realised I can self-learn. When you read and self-learn you’re your own coach.

When I finished there, I applied for lots of jobs and had lots of interviews which gave me good practice helping me develop skills, especially body language and behaviours! One interview was for a civil service job and I was so pleased when I was offered the job. I’m really ready for the challenge that will bring.

City Gateway played a big part in helping me build my confidence and discover talents that had been hidden away. It taught me a new viewpoint – I realise how much they support learners who have been through traumatic things in life. It taught me respect, resilience and motivation. They helped push me further than I thought possible. I think some people are just looking at the short term and specific jobs and don’t see the long-term opportunities and where it might lead. It really helped me think ahead.

“If anyone was thinking about going to City Gateway I would say ‘just go! I can’t put into words; the journey is different for everyone but you don’t have to do it alone.’”