Spotlight on Talent – Afsana Arif
Studied: Connecting Communities Programme (ESOL and Entry Level 3 IT)
Progression: Care worker
Having spent the last decade improving her English, developing employability skills and bringing up her son, Afsana Arif has achieved her ultimate goal of starting a career in care. The 36-year-old is a domiciliary care worker with Care Avenue based in Wolverhampton.
Afsana’s success is all the more remarkable because of the many barriers she has overcome when looking for work.
“I had never had a job and only a basic education,” said Pakistan-born Afsana. “Even so, I wanted to work. I was happy to do what was needed to make a better future for myself and my family.
“It’s taken me a long time to achieve this, but I’ve proved I could do it.”
Walsall College’s Connecting Communities Project has played a key role in Afsana’s progress.
Following initial consultation sessions about the help she needed in areas such as completing forms and making telephone calls, she was encouraged to study ESOL and Entry Level 3 IT.
“Through the college, I was able to learn new skills and meet different people,” said Afsana. “I still see my college friends now.”
Afsana’s confidence was further boosted when she volunteered to work at job fairs and a community-based coffee morning (pre-pandemic) run by Connecting Communities. She also attended an Empowering Women delivered by the DWP.
All this led to her securing her first job.
“I chose a career in care because I wanted to be a companion to others in need,” said Afsana. “Sitting with someone while they show you their photographs and relive memories is just as important as doing their shopping for them. I enjoy doing both these things.”
Afsana adds that she would not hesitate to recommend the Connecting Communities Programme to others.
“I know how difficult it is to know who to turn to if you’re cut off from people, you’re English isn’t good or you’re nervous about telling someone your problems,” she said.
“Services like these are important. They help you move forward and show you how to keep going when things don’t work out straightaway.
“I can’t thank Kate, my mentor enough for all her support and friendship.
“Everyone deserves a chance to do things for themselves. That’s all I needed.”