April Blane admits her confidence has rocketed since becoming the first Kickstart recruit to join East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).
The 22-year-old signed up for the Government scheme, which provides funding to create new jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit.
It is intended for those at risk of long-term unemployment and offers a six-month position with a local employer.
April joined EACH’s shop in Poringland, just south of Norwich, and duly became the charity’s first-ever Kickstart recruit.
Now, having impressed from day one, she has been offered a permanent position as Sales Assistant.
“I was looking and applying for jobs with very little luck,” said April.
“Then my work coach introduced me to the Kickstart scheme. I was scrolling through vacancies and found the EACH position in Poringland.
“At first, I wasn’t sure because I’ve never worked in retail before and wasn’t sure how I’d find it.
“However, I went ahead and applied and I’m so happy I did.
“I joined the team nearly four months ago and absolutely love it. I’ve been learning so many new skills and really grown in confidence.
“The team have been so supportive and caring and I couldn’t have asked for better people to work alongside.”
April admits she is delighted to have been offered a permanent position, given that her placement was only for six months.
“I was sad and apprehensive about the prospect of leaving as I was really enjoying working in the shop,” she said.
“So I’m very happy and grateful to have been given this opportunity to continue. It means so much and has really given me a confidence-boost.
“I had a brilliant upbringing and very happy childhood but during my time in high school I was badly bullied.
“I left secondary school to join the Red Balloon Learner Centre (which offers educational and well-being support for students missing from school because of bullying), where I made amazing friends and got my confidence back, also gaining my core GCSEs.
“I moved to Dubai with my family to work within a school as a one-to-one learning support assistant and I was there two years before moving back to the UK in 2018.
“I found a job as a care assistant but left when my family moved home and then the pandemic hit, so it’s been a tough year or so – until being given this wonderful opportunity.”
April has certainly impressed since joining EACH, which cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions, and their families, across East Anglia.
Melanie Warner-Taylor, EACH’s Retail Area Manager for the North and East of the region, said: “April has been a delight since she started at our Poringland shop.
“She has picked up all the processes really well, offers exceptional customer service and is a fabulous team member.
“She has shown great enthusiasm about the charity and we’re over the moon that she’s now secured a permanent position.
“April was our first Kickstart recruit, and she’s our first permanent appointment, too. What a great accolade and one she should be proud of.”