Halima Ahmed, 17, is currently on an apprenticeship at a crèche, with the aim of moving on to gaining qualifications in childcare. Her future looks promising. But, rewind a year and things were very different.
Halima was in sixth form studying health and social care. She’d stopped turning up to certain classes. Halima said: “It wasn’t the course I signed up for. It didn’t seem to be leading me into a career in childcare.”
A few months later her college asked her to leave and Halima suddenly faced the reality of finding a job in a difficult market without enough of the right qualifications.
She tried Connexions and applied for around 60 jobs but hit a brick wall. She was prepared to go for anything, not just childcare. Connexions said they’d get back to her but they never did.
She found that the short courses she’d done at school held her back: they didn’t equate to the five GCSEs employers were looking for, and she didn’t have enough work experience.
Fortunately for Halima help was at hand. She had previously benefited from a pilot programme in Tower Hamlets which provided young people at risk of dropping out with a personal coach. Funding was withdrawn and the programme closed at precisely the time Halima didn’t make it through sixth form. But 3 months later, the pilot was picked up by Impetus – PEF and re-launched as ThinkForward. Halima’s coach Ripha got back in touch with her and the rest is history.
Halima said: “If it wasn’t for Ripha I would still probably be applying for jobs, not getting anywhere. Connexions didn’t live up to their promises but Ripha lived up to her promises and I trusted her. ThinkForward was a life changing experience. I’m now doing something I really enjoy. Ripha understood that I needed to be hands on to learn. She found something which was right for me.”