North Belfast woman, Jenny McDonagh has recently been announced as the winner of the Belfast Works LEMIS+ Participant of the Year Award.
Jenny, a mum of two, came to the LEMIS+ Project at the Ashton Centre in 2015 after two years out of work.
Missing interacting with people
“I had worked in retail for nine years when I stopped to just be at home with my children. After about a year I realised that not being in work wasn’t working for me.
My physical health deteriorated and I found myself always listless and tired. It was a vicious cycle because the less I did, the more tired I felt. I’d hardly ever be out of the house and I found that I really missed just interacting with people. It was making me a bit depressed, but then the light just came on for me that I needed to get out and start working again."
Getting up to date training
Jenny spent time researching opportunities on the internet and explained:
"I thought that I’d like to get in to office work, which is where I’d started out after school, but my skills were dead in the water.
I went for a job interview and got offered the job, but I panicked and didn’t take it because I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do the work. I thought that I really needed training to bring me up to date with new computer packages etc., but that all costs money that I couldn’t afford at that time.
Looking back now though, I realise that I was seriously lacking in confidence. My opinion of myself was literally on the floor."
Joining the LEMIS+ Project
When Jenny saw the advert for the LEMIS+ Project, she said:
“I went straight to the Ashton Centre, where the programme is run in North Belfast, to find out if they could help me.
“When I met my mentor, Brenda, I was blown away by her level of support and commitment. She was very genuinely supportive and kept constant contact with me to let me know about other courses and to keep me in the loop about job opportunities that might suit me.
Brenda advised me to go on a basic ECDL course as a confidence booster and just being on a computer again got me back into the swing of things.
When a job came up in the Ashton Centre, Jenny applied for it and was successful. She said:
“Working again is fantastic and I’m really benefitting from the financial and emotional stability that you get.
I have a renewed sense of purpose and I really couldn’t do without the extra support network that I have with my colleagues. While it’s sometimes challenging and I am having to constantly learn new things, it’s definitely much better for my overall health and sense of wellbeing. I feel like I have the potential to grow now.”
Jenny continues to work for Aston Community Trust.
European Social Fund
The Lemis+ Project is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 to 2020 and the Department for the Economy.