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Helen’s Story

middle aged womanMy name is Helen, very happily married to Mike and in September I will be 56 years old. I’m a Mum of five, Granny of one and Mum to two rescued border collies. I’m also very lucky to still have my parents.

Having had a massively varied career due to the expense of a large family and the necessity to earn good salaries I was feeling tired and wrung out. My husband contracting sepsis (a life threatening infection) and the birth of my first grandchild, coupled with a few months of unpleasant experiences at work made me realise that life is precious and fragile. I took a package to leave and was left with spare time for the first time in my adult life.

I’d never really had to go looking for a job (they seem to have come to me) and so I was at a loss. I knew that I didn’t want to do anything I’d previously done and that money was no longer my main motivation.

A friend recommended the National Careers Service and I met my adviser, Hannah, locally for a chat. Hannah was kind, non-judgemental and sympathetic. I’d gone to the meeting with a feeling that this wouldn’t help. I’m a seasoned professional who has worked in male dominated industries all my life, aren’t I?!

We talked through what I actually like to do rather than what I have to do. Hannah worked through a questionnaire which helped me to focus on my own needs – something I had never even considered. I left our meeting knowing that my next job had to be something which gives back to the world. It needed to be something which allowed me to leave work knowing I’d contributed and in which I could feel a part of something that mattered. I wanted to enjoy being with my colleagues and very importantly, I didn’t necessarily want to be the boss any more.

Within a few weeks of our meeting I’d applied to South Central Ambulance Service. It was a job I’d always like the idea of but which I knew wasn’t that well paid. However, as I’d decided that money wasn’t my motivation, I went for a detailed assessment and was invited for an interview. To my joy and surprise, I was offered the role and began my training in June this year.

I’m now an Emergency Call Taker, based in the operations centre at Otterbourne, near Winchester. The role is varied, stressful in the extreme at times, and I’m home. SCAS are a supportive and forward thinking employer and I am confident that I can go to my manager at any time if I am struggling, whether it’s at home or work.

At almost 56 years old, I have taken detailed and complicated exams and assessments which have allowed me to move into a role I never expected to be able to do. Hannah gave me the confidence and direction I needed to see that you’re never too old. I may be one of the older members of the team at work but I’m not treated any differently and I know I have been able to bring life experience to my dealings with patients in their hour of need.

I would say that anyone considering a career change would benefit massively from time with a careers adviser. It is easy to think you are finished after a knock to the confidence but you really aren’t. Hannah helped me see where I needed to be and showed me how to get there.

The National Careers Service provides free, up to date, impartial information, advice and guidance on careers, skills and the labour market in England to anyone aged 13 and upwards.

To speak to a National Careers Service adviser, call 0800 100 900 or use our webchat (8:00am to 10:00pm, 7 days a week)

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