Work Wales help young cancer sufferers gain skills and confidence

Here at the Child of Wales Awards, we are constantly amazed and inspired by the wonderful stories of compassion that we hear from the people and organisations involved in the awards.

It’s particularly great to hear that one of our sponsors, Work Wales, has been going above and beyond to help young people suffering from cancer regain their confidence, learn new skills, expand their work-related opportunities and help them to take great strides towards their future careers.

Work Wales co-founders and directors, Christina Allen and Sophie Benyamin, first approached Maggie’s in Swansea – a charity that gives free support to anyone with cancer and their families – with the offer of helping people with work-related advice and support. Initially, the plan was to include visits to the centre, holding sessions that covered writing CVs, role-play interviews and general career advice. These planned sessions were due to start in the spring of 2020 and be called FACT – Friendly Advice, Coaching and Togetherness!

However, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, these face-to-face meetings were put on hold, but by then the staff at Maggie’s had already introduced Christina and Sophie to the organisation CLIC Sargent – a cancer charity that supports children, young people and their families facing the disease.

Over recent weeks, using virtual video-conferencing software, Work Wales have managed to once again start helping people gain the skills needed to apply for jobs.

Work Wales co-director and founder, Christina Allen, said:

“I believe cancer is a subject close to many people’s hearts, but after my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and before her recovery, I saw the amazing work Maggie’s does and wondered what I could do to help.

“I heard that they welcomed volunteers to do makeup and hair for the visitors, and I had the idea that we could offer our help with recruitment support, CV writing, role-play interviews and generally helping with queries about employment issues – not to mention building confidence.”

Sophie Beyamin, co-director and founder of Work Wales, added:

“Unfortunately, our FACT sessions have been put on hold, but by being introduced to the representatives of CLIC Sargent already last year, and using video-conferencing software, we’ve been able to continue helping young people with cancer – many of which will be applying for their first job – build the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the jobs marketplace.”

Two of Work Wales newest recruits have been instrumental in helping the young people at CLIC Sargent: Perm Recruitment Consultant, Kim Simpson and Contracts Manager Nia Evans. Kim had previously worked with vulnerable young people in New Zealand and Nia has recovered from her own breast cancer diagnosis. The personal experiences of these two members of staff, combined with their expertise in getting individuals ready for the jobs market, makes them the ideal consultants for the role.

Kim Simpson, Work Wales perms recruitment consultant, spoke about volunteering with Clic Sargent:

“It’s a really rewarding and humbling experience. The skills that we try to give these young people not only give them opportunities and open doors for them, it helps bring out the confidence that they may lack as a result of some of the challenges they’ve had to face in their young lives.”

Nia Evans, Work Wales contracts manager, added:

“Dealing with a cancer diagnosis can make you feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. Being a survivor myself, I know only to well the effect it can have on your confidence levels. I’m so pleased to be able to help people on their journey to recovery, and so proud to work for an employer who enables us to volunteer hours to this worthy cause”

When coronavirus restrictions are finally lifted, the team at Work Wales are determined to continue helping at Maggie’s, as well as helping vulnerable and homeless people at Matts Café in Swansea, where they had – prior to COVID – set up a monthly Job Shop, volunteering hours giving careers advice and employment skills.