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Service user

'I am so much more employable than when I started'

To protect identities, images are not specific to the stories but are of others involved with Catch22.

My name is Chloe. I’m 17 and live in Portsmouth with my mum and my hamster, Lola. Before Catch22, I had a lot of problems in my life and was removed from school when I was 14. I spent two years at an alternative education centre [for learners with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties] but didn’t know what to do next.

I started working with Go For It [Portsmouth City Council youth support service] for help with my CV and to try and get a job or an apprenticeship. I was doing nothing but printing out lots of CVs and handing them into shops, as well as looking online, but it seemed like no one wanted to give me a chance.

Go For It told me about the Catch22 Study Programme and encouraged me to join to help with my confidence. I wanted to get more qualifications and better my life.

Boosting my confidence

I had an interview with Vik, a tutor, and felt like I could trust her straightaway. When I started, I remember walking into the room and being really scared as I didn’t like new people. I sat down and thought, ‘I cannot do this.’ But I did, and now I’m at the end of the course and very proud of myself.

The staff were very supportive and helped me to realise what is good about myself and stop thinking about all the bad things. The projects we did as a whole class helped me to improve my confidence, including gardening, being involved in a film, learning about homelessness, doing graffiti and experiencing a mock interview. Out of all of them, my favourites were the gardening project and the film, FACES.

The gardening project was about creating a 1940s garden for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing in Portsmouth. This helped me deal with what was going on in my life; I know it sounds weird that making a garden can change how someone is feeling but it helped me in such a big way. I like doing things that calm me down and take my mind off whatever’s bothering me – and the project did just that.

Read about the garden and see pictures here.

The FACES project was about the First World War and how it affected Portsmouth and the people who lived here. We helped to make a film, which helped me with my confidence, as I wouldn’t normally get in front of a camera. But I though I could give it a go, thinking – what could possibly go wrong?

Securing a work placement

Ever since I was 8-years-old, I have wanted to work with nursery age children, so I told Vik and she said she knew of two nurseries that I might like. We looked at both and I found the one for me. I started attending a work placement there two to three days a week, doing things like preparing snacks, cleaning the tables and making sure the nursery was safe for the children. I also had to play games and put CD stories on, holding the book for the children as they listened to it being read. I have now built a bond with the children and do not want to leave – it’s been such a good experience.

My life has changed for the better thanks to Catch22. I’m not as angry as when I first started this course. I now feel so much more confident and am in the middle of achieving my ambitions: my next step is to get an apprenticeship in childcare and education. I want to do that for 12 to 18 months and then get my business up and running. I am so much more employable than when I started – I have so much more that I’ve added to my CV, so I’m more likely to get a job.

I’m very grateful to all of the people from Catch22 who have helped me.

Study Programme is a vocational learning and training progamme for young people aged 16 to 18-years-old that focuses on the attainment of Functional Skills and work-ready qualifications alongside personal and social development sessions and a relevant work placement for the duration of the course.

Chloe was awarded ‘Top Student’ and achieved:

  • BTEC Level 1 Award in Work Skills
  • BTEC Level 1 Award in Personal and Social Development
  • Functional Skills English Entry 3
  • Functional Skills Maths Entry 3.