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024 / Confidence

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Before I came to City Gateway I was a quiet and nervous woman, and I had no confidence at all. I had had no job since I began bringing up my children, and when they were old enough I began looking for jobs but just couldn't find one for two years. I was just looking for any job, as I wanted to work in a cafe but I just didn't have the skills or English.

I came to City Gateway to begin a volunteering placement at their catering enterprise, Flavour Gateway. I really needed to get experience and skills, and to practise my English.

Public Speaking was the first course I went on, and I was referred to it because my confidence was so low. The course was really popular, and I was nervous about it because I knew that it would involve doing a speech in front of an audience, but I really wanted to do it because I knew I would gain so much confidence and that it would prepare me for job interviews and improve my employability.

I never thought that I could work in a cafe because my English was not fluent and I lacked confidence – I was scared to talk to people. And job interview skills are very important. New faces in cafe, very difficult sometimes. When cafe moved to a new place at Weaver's Filed, there were scary people I needed to face, customers who would say things like "this is very expensive" – but now I can tell them that these days everything is inflated: our food is healthy and homemade, and so it's very good value. Before the public speaking course, I would think "I can't talk to people like this", and just apologise to them. Now, if people don't like my coffee, I say, "why don't you like my coffee? I make my coffee the same every time, and everyone else says my coffee is nice!"

At the moment I am concentrating on completing my apprenticeship in Catering and Hospitality at City Gateway. I am attending Maths Functional Skills classes, and receiving training in Catering and Hospitality in preparation for the exam.

I am also working at Flavour Gateway alongside this, as Cafe Manager at their new site. I still have a lot to learn on the job, especially since my role has become more leadership-focussed, as I train cafe trainees and seek to develop the reputation of the cafe in the local area. I would really like to invest in this job and do my best, as I can see that I am improving my skills and gaining valuable experience, and that what I do in my job benefits other people.

My confidence is improving every day, and although I find it hard sometimes to overcome the daily challenge of using English with customers, I am practising and it gets easier every time I speak with people. It is so encouraging to see that I can make a difference in people's lives, even if I just smile at a customer and tell them what's on the menu today.

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