County Voice

Working Denbighshire

Let us tell you about Julie Bradley

Grandmother-of-12 Julie Bradley knows a thing or two when it comes to looking after people.

Having started life as a self-taught sewing machinist, Julie gave up work to raise her own children before moving to Rhyl in 1994.

As her own children got older, Julie decided to return to work and eased herself into the workplace beginning with a spell volunteering in Rhyl’s YMCA shop. But a range of health conditions including fibromyalgia, heart difficulties and infections, left Julie unable to work and she spent almost 13 years without a job.

“I really wanted to be working,” explains Julie, “but raising my children and my ongoing health problems meant I spent a great deal of time out of the workplace. When I first started in work you just used to knock on factory doors and ask if they had a vacancy. By the time I was able to return to work, everything had changed and I didn’t know where to start.”

During a jobs fair at Rhyl Town Hall, Julie came across Working Denbighshire and from there things started to look up. Working with mentor Cerian Asplet - Phoenix, Julie began to take the first steps back into employment.

Cerian worked with Julie to establish the kind of work she’d like to do, write a new CV, and help Julie search for jobs. Working Denbighshire also helped Julie by providing an outfit for interviews.

Cerian says: “Julie has been out of work for quite some time, so it was important to help build her confidence and point her in the right direction. Sometimes our help is about more than the search for a job but about giving people the tools they need to move forward. Julie represents herself well in interviews but needed the support to open the doors in the first place. We knew from spending time with Julie that she wanted to do a job where she could look after people.”

Julie then came across a role at Bodelwyddan’s Glan Clwyd Hospital, providing retail services across the wards.

An interview swiftly followed, and Julie has now joined the hospital team, selling refreshments and other goods to patients. For Julie, who sat a business studies course at Rhyl College, the job is a dream come true.

“My great nan lived until she was 94 and I listened to her stories and helped her around the house. I saw the advert for the job at the hospital and knew it was ideal for me. I love caring for people and helping them. I’m now doing my dream job and also training the other volunteers who work alongside me on the wards. My hours have been increased too.

“My health issues won’t go away but I can manage them in a way that works. Without Working Denbighshire, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. I didn’t know how to look for a job or even how to apply. Working Denbighshire proved to be a lifeline and, even though I am now in employment, they are still on the end of a phone if there is anything I need. They are not there to judge but to help and I can’t thank Cerian enough,” added Julie. 

Ready for Work Careers Fairs

Working Denbighshire in partnership with Careers Wales organised and held Ready for Work careers fairs at Denbigh Leisure Centre and The Nova in Prestatyn. Students from year 9 in the local high schools were invited and supported to attend the events which gave them an opportunity to talk to potential employers, explore a variety of career options and engage with people who are working within different industries to get an insight into what the role entails. We had 69 employers and providers attend the events offering a widespread selection of sectors to help enrich the experience for students and stretch them beyond the school environment.

The careers fairs this year were highly interactive and students were exposed to different employers and providers including local colleges, Universities, local employers and businesses, entrepreneurs, armed services, NHS, public services and apprenticeship providers. Each exhibitor offered advice, guidance and an engaging activity to give students a taste of their area of work. Chester Zoo and Eric and Friends both had interactive sections allowing students to discover the possibilities of working with animals and also provided the opportunity for students to explore different roles available within this area of work that they may not have thought about previously. Henllan Bakery attended and provided taste samples of their products along with an interactive map showing the production pathway of the bakery and an example of the career progression. We had entrepreneurs discussing how they developed their companies from a single idea into a business enterprise and the local Natwest Community Bankers who provided an insight into the roles within the banking industry as well as educating students on local scam awareness. Local colleges and universities provided students with the opportunity to discuss the wide range of courses on offer including marine engineering, forensics, and hair and beauty. Techniquest brought science into the mix allowing students to discover how accessible science is and how we use it in everyday life. Working Denbighshire used a conversational Jenga game to prompt discussions with students about their careers and encouraged them to consider what they can do now to help them in their future career. Interactive virtual reality headsets offered by Careers Wales gave students a glimpse into the life of certain professionals including care, police, paramedics and the fire service. Drawing on the expertise of the employers/organisations and the many others that attended the events, our aim was to help students make informed career decisions and plans.

The 611 year 9 students from Denbighshire who attended the event thoroughly enjoyed the day, and the events were successful in encouraging students to explore the different career pathways available to them, with many students widening their aspirations and considering careers that they previously had not considered. The events allowed students to interact, develop their communication skills and think about what they can do now to help them in their future. On leaving the event each student was invited to feedback if they thought the event was ‘very useful’, ‘useful’ or ‘not useful’. 75% of students found the event was ‘Very Useful’, 24% considered it to be ‘useful’ and only 1% deemed the event ‘not useful’.

Overall it was a very successful venture and a valuable experience to continue to move forward with and build on to create bigger and better opportunities for young people. We would like to thank all the exhibitors that attended on the day, allowing the young people of our County to get an insight into the different careers on offer and hopefully guide them into a fun and fulfilling career in the future. We will be holding focus groups with both employers and students to build upon the success of these events and inform our planning for next year.

Meet Cristyn Jones .......

Some people say that their best friend is their dog and for Cristyn Jones that’s certainly true.

The 18-year-old animal lover has transformed her life thanks to a very special companion and help from Working Denbighshire.

Cristyn, from Rhyl, came to Working Denbighshire 18 months ago. For the past five years, Cristyn has been living with anxiety which had made it difficult for her to live her life as she would like. Chronically shy, Cristyn is autistic and also has epilepsy.

Attending college was overwhelming for Cristyn and she had left a travel and tourism college course as a result. But her love of animals has now set Cristyn, who is being mentored by Working Denbighshire’s Siobhan Hughes-Jones, on a different path.

“Before we could look at training or employment for Cristyn one of the first things we needed to do was help her with her anxiety. Cristyn left the college course as her social anxiety meant she found it overwhelming. We funded a course to help her learn how to handle social interactions with little tasks each week to build up her confidence.”

By spending time with Cristyn, Siobhan discovered the teenager’s love of animals and that she had taken in a rescue dog, a Bedlington Terrier called Bruce.

Three-year-old Bruce came from the Pet Rescue Welfare Association in Dyserth. Siobhan hit on the idea of securing Cristyn a placement at the rescue centre.

“I was actually a little scared of dogs before I got Bruce,” said Cristyn. “But he became my best friend. Siobhan came to the placement with me in the early days to help my confidence and together we’d walk the centre’s dogs and look after the other animals. By looking after the dogs there and from caring for my own I realised I’d like to consider dog grooming.”

Siobhan found an assistant dog grooming course at Llysfasi College. The fact the course is part-time was more manageable for Cristyn and Working Denbighshire paid for her to attend.

“Cristyn has almost completed the course and when it finishes in May she’ll leave with a qualification. We’ve been able to help her on so many levels – building her confidence, finding work experience, and paying for training. We’ve also funded the dog grooming equipment, such as clippers and scissors, she needed to take the course. It is amazing how far Cristyn has come in 18 months. We’ve held her hand when she needed it and will let her go when she’s ready.”

Cristyn has also found the confidence to apply for jobs. Working Denbighshire helped Cristyn develop her CV and she will be joining the team at Rhyl’s new SC2 water park, helping out in the cafés during busy periods. In the meantime, Working Denbighshire continues to support her as she looks for work with a dog groomers’ or considers starting a further college course.

Cristyn is delighted with the turn her life has taken. “I can’t believe how much has changed. Before I came to Working Denbighshire I wouldn’t go anywhere on my own. Now I’ve had work experience, been for interviews, nearly completed a college course and found something I love doing. I hope one day to open my own dog groomers and I’ve got my eye on my mum’s garage!” she said.

Working Denbighshire at the Oaktree Centre, Rhyl

Working Denbighshire are always thriving to build relationships with new teams and venues across Denbighshire.

In October, they had the opportunity to engage with staff and parents at the Oaktree Centre in Ffordd Las, Rhyl for the first time. A stand was set up in the foyer, equipped with Working Denbighshire leaflets and information.  There was a good stream of parents popping into the centre throughout the morning and it was used as an opportunity to offer employability support and a free paediatric first aid course to all who were interested.

In the afternoon, the ‘Little Adventurers’ group met, where young children are free to play with a wide range of fun toys, supported by youth workers and parents were offered support. The paediatric first aid course  held, was particularly well received.

The team welcomed the opportunity to chat with the youth workers in such a relaxed environment with plans to establish further communications with Working Denbighshire moving forward.

The staff at the Oaktree Centre were very grateful for Working Denbighshire's support to parents at the centre. They're hoping to visit the centre again soon!

For future engagement sessions at the Oaktree Centre, please have a look at the Council's events page on their website.

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