From the age of 15, Courtney McGowan assumed a full-time caring role for her partner who had cystic fibrosis.
Sadly, he died last year, but with her previous experience in care, Courtney, who is now 18, decided she wanted to get into work.
She sought help from Remploy, the disability, employment and skills specialists, and is now has an assistant support worker at Action For Children’s ‘North Lanarkshire Young Carers’ project.
The project has operated locally since 1995 working with young people who provide care and support to family members who may have a range of needs, including disability and mental health.
It helps them by safeguarding their health and wellbeing, supporting them with education, training and employment as well as increasing their access to leisure and social opportunities.
Remploy spoke to Courtney about Fair Start Scotland, the Scottish Government employment support service which helps people to find the right job that meets their needs and circumstances.
After hearing about the benefits of Fair Start Scotland and how the service could help her, Courtney was keen to participate.
She said: “When I started, my confidence was at an all time low, but I was made to feel at home and the support I received was really personal to me.”
Working with her Remploy Key Worker, Moira Jack, they looked at possible ways to increase her job prospects and improve her self esteem.
Moira said: “Courtney was a pleasure to work with and I enjoyed giving her the helping hand she needed. We knew with a bit of guidance she could succeed in anything she wanted to do.”
Courtney was referred to specialist support with Action for Children who Remploy work alongside, and took part in a Positive Choices course which offers support to develop skills for training and employment opportunities.
As part of the course, Courtney received help to manage her finances and develop some core skills to get ready for employment.
Through the Positive Choices course she attained an SQA level 3 award in Health and Wellbeing.
She said: “I could tell my confidence was gradually increasing. The course was very useful, I learned about myself and it really helped me on my journey into work - I also managed to add the SQA award to my credentials.”
During her course Courtney was informed about a position as an Assistant Support Worker at Action for Children, which she was very keen to apply for.
After submitting her application she was successfully put forward for an interview, which she felt confident about as she was receiving support with interview skills and techniques to help her prepare.
When Courtney heard that she was successful in her interview she was “over the moon.”
She said: “The preparation prior to my interview was instrumental in me securing this role. It really gave me confidence and belief I could make the job mine.”
“The Fair Start Scotland service was great, I was allowed to go at my own pace and all the decisions were mine to make.
It has really made a huge difference to my life, I am delighted with this outcome and I am looking forward to helping people who need the extra bit of support like I did.
“The whole experience was immense and it really helped spur me on to get this position.”
Janet Back, Young Person’s Practitioner at Action for Children, added: “Courtney is doing great, she has grown in confidence, has a clear focus and hopes to progress her career with us.
“She is enjoying working with other young people that have shared similar experiences. She is financially better off and has managed to get her car on the road which she can use when she is out visiting young people.”
For more information visit www.mygov.scot/fairstart.