Lauren + Alister’s #NoWrongPath
Lauren – Addiction Worker/ Cognitive Behavioural Therapist
When I was at school I was unsure what I wanted to do with my life. I was good at Art and History, so I decided to study BA (Hons) History of Art at University of Glasgow. I didn’t really think this through to consider what job I would get at the end of it but I did enjoy the undergraduate experience – making new friends, getting to go to gigs and nights out and learning about art, both modern and classical. During my studies I started volunteering in a contemporary art gallery called Sorcha Dallas. Sorcha represented emerging artists and some well known artists like, Alastair Gray. I loved this role, as I got to meet people involved in the industry, go and see lots of exhibitions and learn how these were curated and managed. Whilst I did enjoy this role and considered going into curating, I wasn’t sure if this was really the path I wanted to go down. I was also worried I may struggle to get a full time job as there was not much money being invested in the arts following the 2008 financial crash. When I finished my degree, I decided to take a year out and went to live in Paris.
Paris was an amazing experience! I worked in cafes and a bar which meant I got to meet lots of people from all over the world. I also got to volunteer in an art gallery. I loved meeting people from all walks of life and hearing their different stories. What I started to realise, was that I enjoyed working with people and that whilst I enjoyed working in the arts, I wanted to work directly with people.
When I returned to Glasgow, I begun some volunteer roles working directly with people to gain more experience. I started doing Befriending roles with young people who were in foster care. This led me onto begin working with vulnerable young people in a runaways Refuge. I begun to get an insight into the many difficulties the young people had in their lives – particularly difficulties with poverty, trauma, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and mental health difficulties. This role also involved working closely with Social Work and I later decided to move to Edinburgh in order to study a Masters of Social Work degree at the University of Edinburgh.
When I qualified I worked in a number of social work roles, including working in statutory children and families teams, supervising foster care placements for a charity and in an adoption agency. All of these roles gave me a lot of invaluable experience. However I felt that at times I was not getting to complete therapeutic work with people, as I was often writing reports or attending meetings. I decided to do some additional training in a Diploma in Counselling and Group work. This was a real challenge for me, as I needed to juggle a busy social work position along with a very busy course (which included attending the course, studying and completing therapeutic counselling placements). I am so glad that I had this opportunity though, as I developed hugely in my own personal and professional development and this has led me into the work that I complete now as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist. I currently work at Addiction Support and Counselling (ASC) service in Falkirk and Stirling. This role involves providing counselling to people who are recovering from an addiction. I also complete some private work with Foster Carers. I love my job. It has taken me over ten years to get to this role, with lots of studying and movement between different jobs. However I believe it is really important to gain experience in different roles as it allows you to lean more about yourself and what you are interested in.
Lauren’s No Wrong Path story shows us that we have our whole life to make memories and to figure out what we want do to with our career.
Alister – Contracts supervisor
I struggled throughout my school days. The penny never really dropped for me regarding the core skills of English and maths. I was and still am a very practical person.
A wonderful teacher at Crieff secondary school, could see I was not a natural learner. He said to me one day “Alister some people are academic and some people are not, you’re not! We will have to find another way for you get by.”
He taught me and some other people who struggled to learn how to fly tie. He got me to contact other school in the area to set up a football league, where we had to organise parks, refs and changing facilities. He had us writing out fixtures, results and league tables, we didn’t realise at the time but we were learning and enjoying it. He was a teacher who was away a head of his time, using the curriculum for excellence before it was ever thought of. Today I realise we certainly don’t all learn in the same way. And that every style of learning must be available for the learner.
Over the years I have stayed in employment by being able and willing to put in a hard day’s work. I worked in pottery for a number of years, as a young lad. I worked on the roads and building sites with my father and brothers. Because of the nature of this kind of work it was difficult to forward plan because jobs finish and I could be laid off. So I had to be able to turn my hand to a variety of different skills. From tarring, fencing, ground works, milkman, road Reinstatements, general labouring to scaffolding.
Working with firm like Wimpy, king contractors, A & L king and West residential to name a few.
I moved to Raploch Community Enterprise now Stirling Community Enterprise 10 years ago as construction coordinator, This was a massive direction change for me, working with young people where I would come across young people who have the same learning problems as I have. I know how hard it is to get by with learning difficulties but it doesn’t need to be a massive barrier into employment. Being honest and open about my problems has shown me that there is always a way round them, and that there are good people out there who are always willing to help. The company encouraged me to get my A1 assessor qualification, and I took up a new role in the company as a trainer mentor. My manager is always pushing me out of my comfort zone, encouraging me to learn new skills and helping me improve the standard of service we deliver.
Over the years I have gained qualifications in a variety of areas. Last year I was promoted to Contracts Supervisor I lead the commercial contracts team, our aim is to increase the volume of commercial work we do in order the create jobs for local people.
We specifically want to employ people who have found it hard to get work as we believe there is no wrong path into employment.
Alister’s No Wrong Path story tells us that not doing the best at school is okay! There are ways to overcome barriers to employment and you can definitely find a career that you love.