Pamela, the youngest of four, has lived in Hackney her whole life. She stopped studying after the first year of A Levels because she says she “lost interest”. After, she became a live-in babysitter for the mother of her boyfriend for 3 years, before having her first child at 21. She says at this point “I stopped thinking about anything career wise for myself – I didn’t think remotely about how I’d be in the future and what I’d do.”
That all changed when an incident with her brother shook her into both grasping the fragility of life, and the importance of making sure that young people are motivated and guided to work on positive futures for themselves. Without provocation, her brother had been shot in the leg, though fortunately recovered, and Pamela says that round about this time she felt she wanted to work with young people. Her plans were shelved, though, when she became pregnant with her second child.
However, this time she says “being pregnant felt more of a pause for me than being up against a brick wall – something I’d felt with my first child.” Pamela went on to gain a Teaching Assistant qualification, which she saw as a gateway to working with young people. However once she’d completed it she says, “I knew I needed more support and motivation to make something of it. When it came down to it, I wasn’t convinced I’d actually use it to take me anywhere.”
At this point she came across LWL. She reflects that at the point of joining the programme she saw herself as “very under-confident, as someone to sit at the back of the room trying to blend into the background.” But that this has since been totally reversed: “I’ve become someone who’s not afraid to be the first person to put up my hand, ask a question or for help.” Pamela says she constantly finds herself referring back to a workshop focused on speaking with confidence and authenticity. She also says that she sees herself differently “because the other women in the group kept telling me how well I speak and looked at me as the confident one. That really surprised me!”
Since graduating from LWL, Pamela has been interviewed for paid job in a youth facing charity: “The Director of it called me for it, because she’d remembered me from earlier in the summer when I met her at my daughter’s school. I’d just completed my LWL work placement in the learning department of a huge museum and found myself pitching to her. I remembered about the importance of networking and I liked what her charity does. I’d also worked out that I wanted to work with young people but NOT in a formal education setting.” The interview, she says, went well and if their funding for the post comes through, then Pamela has been told she’s in the running for it.
Reflecting on the overall message taken away from LWL workshop leaders, Pamela says: “It doesn’t matter where you start, you just have to keep moving and eventually you’ll get to where you want to. That’s where I am now, I’m not stopping anymore, I’m going to keep moving and I’ve never been so focused in my life before.”