Women returning to work… story by Tracey Armstrong-Stacey

Monday 23rd April, 2018

Just the thought of this could be enough to keep you awake at night.  It really is a big thing just to make the initial decision to return to work….it might not even be your decision, you might just ‘have to’.
Due to lack of childcare and my low wage, my husband and I decided that I could stay at home until our daughter started nursery, as my working wage wouldn’t have even covered the childcare costs.  So he became the only earner in our family of now 4 which, until recently, I didn’t realise the amount of pressure it put him under.
I, on the other hand was flourishing in my new found freedom. I loved being able to spend time with my daughter and enjoyed watching her learn and discover new things.  I really valued this magical time but I knew it couldn’t last forever.
I decided to go back to college and to gain a qualification in something I have touched on in previous jobs role and always enjoyed. Human Resources. I filled out the online starter enquiry form and things suddenly started to move very quickly.  I felt scared, yet excited.  I was scared because of the unknown, starting something new….Could I do It?…..Would I be any good?…..What would I talk about?….What would the other people on the course be like?
Again, sleepless nights worrying if I was doing the right thing?!
My first day at college was nerve wracking, it had taken me all morning just to decide what to wear!  I needn’t have worried, the people I met were lovely.
I decided to stay on another year and gained my Human Resources Management Degree.  During this time I also did some voluntary work 2 days a weeks to give me much needed HR experience and a huge confidence boost.   I felt so proud of myself and my achievements, but more importantly my eldest daughter told me that she was proud of me… did my husband of course.  However, now qualified it was time for me to start looking for a job!!!
I had felt safe going to my college class with my familiar friends and now I had to start all over again.  Once people knew I’d graduated the question everyone asked was “Have you found a job yet?”  I was suddenly under pressure myself to start looking and APPLYING for work.  This in itself was a full time job.  I had my C.V to update, I didn’t know where to start so I looked online and found the help I needed.
One Saturday morning I received a letter inviting me to attend an interview!  My face filled with smiles I was so happy, it didn’t take long before the panic set in……again!
I worked out that it had been over 8 years since my last proper interview, thank goodness I did the volunteer work, I was given a very informal interview but it made me think about questions that I could be faced with in future interviews.

Interview day came, I was so nervous, I made sure I was wearing smart yet comfortable clothes, I had a good breakfast and had done lots of practice. Yet I felt sick to my stomach.
I think the moral of this story is you can only do your best, but you can also help make yourself ‘job ready’……………oh yes, and I got the job!  It’s a 10 month maternity cover which is a perfect opportunity to gain some valuable experience and hopefully open doors for me in the future.
I’ll keep you updated with my progress.

Well, I can’t believe it’s been over a month since my official first day here at Under Construction and what a busy month it’s been!
I have met so many new people, which initially terrified me, as I’m useless at remembering names, but I had also lost a bit of confidence in normal conversation.
I’ve attended meetings, been on training sessions, site visits, workshops, spent time with individuals within my department and that’s before I even mention all the day to day activities that take place. Let’s say my life is now busy.
Returning to work Full time after 6 years off is a shock to the system, gone are my lunches with friends and afternoon catch up on my favourite TV shows.  I have an ironing pile again, a house that isn’t as clean as it used to be but do you know what… doesn’t matter. I now appreciate the time I spend with my family a whole lot more, we went away for the May Bank holiday weekend and it was priceless!  I’ve even booked a family holiday abroad in the Summer Holidays, something that we all haven’t done together for years!
The pros far out way the cons. I have more energy which is crazy as I expected to be shattered. I’m sleeping better. Eating better (as not home to pick all day). I feel better in myself as I know have a purpose. I am contributing to my family having a better life style, but most of all I LOVE having my own money again!
So my message to people out there thinking about returning to work is…Go for it!  Nobody expects you to be super woman, don’t get me wrong I have by no means adjusted to my busy timetable but do you know what….who cares?  Life is good……I’ll let you know how the next month goes.

St Johns Ambulance First Aid At work.

Back in May, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend and complete a HSE 3-day first aid at work training course.  I felt privileged, as not only would I gain life lasting skills that I would be able to use in everyday life but also I felt proud to be representing my work place.

The First aid at work training course provides the comprehensive set of practical skills needed by first aiders in most workplaces to become a confident first aider at work. Giving both the ability and knowledge to deal with first aid emergencies. It meets the standards required to help comply with Health and Safety (First aid) regulations.

It was a very thorough 3 days with plenty of role-play and at times could get very ‘up close’. However, by day three the group had bonded and we were soon putting one another in the recovery position.

I now know how to deal with the following: (fingers crossed, I won’t have to)

The role of the first aider Head injuries
Managing an emergency Health and safety (first aid) regulations
Communication and casualty care Low blood sugar
Asthma Poisoning
Bleeding (minor and severe) Resuscitation (adult CPR)
Bone, muscle and joint injuries Seizures (adult)
Burns and scalds Severe allergic reaction
Chest pains (including heart attack) Shock
Choking (adult) Spinal injuries
Eye injuries Stroke
Fainting Unresponsive casualty
Defibrillator prompts and how to respond Defibrillator pad placement

If you get the opportunity to take part in this course I can thoroughly recommend it.
There is no exam. Just continuous observation by the trainer and written assessments, which are very straightforward although candidates need a basic command of English (defined as Level 2).
I know have a St John Ambulance certificate, valid for three years.