Before I joined WALK I was at home sitting in my room every evening. Now I’m out and about doing evening courses and going out in the evenings, which I never thought in a million years I would do. I’m also achieving one of my biggest dreams; going to college and doing Beauty and Retail Sales in Crumlin College. I hope that this will help lead me to a job in the beauty industry.
The journey towards this goal has been long with a lot of ups and a few downs. When I started in WALK I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a beauty course or a tourism course. I looked at different options with the staff team and it was suggested that I could do some education and some work experience in the area of beauty to see if this is an area I’d really like to work in.
I started my journey by getting work experience in Kingswood Tan Fairy Beauticians. This was meant to be a 10 week work placement. I loved it there and at the end of the 10 weeks I was delighted when my supervisor, Lorraine, asked me if I’d like to stay on to do voluntary work. I have been there for over a year and am a part of the Friday team. Lorraine was a great support to me when I was going to an interview in Crumlin College to do Beauty and Retails sales. Lorraine told me that I could tell them at the interview that she would be willing to support me in the practical side of things. Lorraine and the staff team have done some beauty work on me when I’ve had an event coming up. They’ve done my hair and my nails as a way of saying thanks for being part of the team. It is amazing. Lorraine also helped me to do full shellac nails on one of my support team from WALK. We were all delighted with the results. I have huge respect for Lorraine and the Friday team and I know they feel the same about me.
Education and training:
After this work experience I was more certain about the path I wanted to pursue. I had to do an Anatomy and Physiology course. I used to not like the classroom when I was in school so I was a little bit nervous about doing this course. WALK introduced me to Jodie, a woman the same age as me, who had completed PEER training. I was delighted to hear Jodie was interested in physiology and anatomy and would get involved in the course with me. Because Jodie was also a student (in IT Tallaght) I didn’t feel like I stood out like a sore thumb on the course. Nobody in the class, even the teacher didn’t know Jodie was my support. It was great that we were just like mates and working on the same goal. She helped me with my communication and with meeting people in the class. I sat an exam at the end of the course. I did not pass the exam but really I feel that it is just a piece of paper that I did not get. After such a difficult time in school I was just so happy to have had the courage to sit an exam. I am now doing another course in Anatomy and Physiology. It is much better suited to me. There is no exam at the end but my tutor knows I am learning because of the work I show her during the course. I also have completed two other courses in Crumlin College. One in “make up” and one in “Personal Beauty Care”. These were both excellent taster courses to the course I am going to be starting in September. Interviewing: I am so pleased with myself not just for doing the interview but for also showing my ambition and for getting on the course in Beauty and Retails Sales. All my work experience and training really stood to me. I was confident and had lots of useful information to share at the interview. I had done some practice runs of interviewing in WALK so I felt very well prepared. My job coach, Mark, came with me to college and waited for me. It was great to have so much support.
Exploring other activities:
Having come so far with college has given me confidence to explore different activities. I became a member of Greenhills Archers club. I never found a sport I liked before but I feel like such a part of the gang here and I even came third in a recent competition. The coaches are very interested in helping me out and I really feel like I’m part of the Archery family now. I’ve never ever felt part of a sporting team before. When I first started archery I only knew one person, now I know a good group of people in there. I was recently surprised on my birthday with my favourite cake and lots of well wishes from the gang. I also go out plenty now with my friends. I go to cinemas and just generally out and about. I keep in contact with people on facebook and on the phone. My social life can be quite busy so in September I’ll have to balance it all out when my new course starts. I feel a lot more confident and happier. I had low self-esteem in school and I feel I have found myself. I have done things that I never thought I would do. I feel I get good support and I know where to go if I need more help.
Somewhere along the way I picked up a role as an ambassador to other people on their journey in further education and training. I am an active member of WALK’s Equality and Diversity Working Group. One of the goals of this group it to help break down barriers to Further Education and Training sector. I was involved in focus groups during the development of our strategic plan 2015 – 2018. In addition, Hannah has met with and spoken out at meeting about what people elected to Government need to do to support people with disabilities in training and education. This was followed up with a very heartfelt and personal letter to all politicians highlighting her cause. She has also agreed to speak on behalf of WALK in the furtherance of our General Election manifesto.