achieving change through enterprising solutions

Mum Simone takes a New Direction into retail role

Simone Weldon has started a career in retail working for M&S, after contacting Actes for support in CV writing and job searching last November. The 24-year-old had been out of work for five years to concentrate on raising her son, however when he started full-time school in September, she decided the time was right to get back into employment.

She said: “I had been looking after my son full-time but with him in school I wanted to do something for myself. I needed a CV and didn’t know where to start so I put a message out on Facebook and was put in touch with Actes.”

Actes’ YEI Advocate Bernie Spark referred Simone onto the organisation’s accredited IT and employability course Work IT Out, and over the course of two weeks she developed a CV and was given one-to-one support with interview preparation, job searches and was able to build up her confidence in the classroom setting.

With her CV up-to-date and new-found confidence, Bernie felt that Simone was ready to take the next step towards employment by signing up to the New Directions Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), which supports 15 to 29-year-olds one-to-one advice, support and mentoring to get them ready for education, employment or further training. 

After working closely with Simone on a one-to-one basis to identify her strengths and interests, Bernie referred her across to the Prince’s Trust’s Get Into Retail programme. The four-week intensive course runs in partnership with M&S and provides candidates with the opportunity to gain a wide range of practical experience within M&S stores, as well as to boost their confidence and interview skills. 

Simone successfully completed the course and the guaranteed interview and was offered a 12-week part-time contract with the retailer, working within the food department of the Middlesbrough store. 

She is thoroughly enjoying the role so far, which is expected to become permanent at the end of the probation period.  She said: “I’m really enjoying the job, it’s been great for building my confidence as I have to get used to talking to lots of different people.  I like being back in a routine and doing something for me while my son’s at school.

“I really don’t think I’d be where I am now if I hadn’t been put in touch with Actes. It’s amazing the progress you can make just by getting the right help. I had big confidence issues and found it difficult to talk to people but Work It Out and Get Into Retail really helped me come out of my shell and I’ve met new friends by doing the courses too.”

Bernie Spark, YEI Advocate for New Directions, said: “Simone had the right attitude when she first started on Work IT Out but lacked in confidence after being away from the workplace to take care of her son.  I was pleased to be able to support her through course and sign her up to New Directions. She’s done brilliant completing Get Into Retail and being taken on by M&S and I can see such a big difference in her confidence.  With New Directions we stay in touch in the early days, even once the client is employed, just in case they need us again in the future. I’m sure she’ll be a huge success.”

For further information about the employability support available through Actes contact 01642 856 030 or visit the website