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A new start for Jackie

Jackie and her young son moved to Burnley in early 2018, with a view to making a new start after fleeing a violent relationship with her ex-partner. With little more than the clothes they left with, Jackie and her son were placed in a housing association home. Jackie attended a mindfulness course at the Valley Street Community Centre and it was here she met Newground Together’s Sharn Wightman and Jackie’s journey with the More Positive Together programme began.

When Sharn first met Jackie, Jackie was shy, quiet and clearly nervous. Jackie told her of the issues she had faced over the past few years and how she wished for a better, more positive future for her and her young son. Sharn felt that Jackie would benefit immensely from Active Lancashire’s More Positive Together programme. She explained how it could help her overcome any barriers she has that may be preventing her from working and building a sustainable and more financially stable future. Jackie agreed to sign on to More Positive Together.

Jackie’s first steps on More Positive Together

Sharn began meeting Jackie on a regular basis at the Valley Street Community Centre and helped Jackie in a multitude of ways. She checked her benefits situation, helped her take control of her debts and even ensured Jackie’s son had toys to play with, with the help of some of her Newground colleagues. Perhaps most importantly, Sharn was simply ‘there’ for Jackie, who, in a new town hundreds of miles from home, was socially isolated and didn’t have friends or family nearby that she could rely on.

Over time, the real Jackie began to emerge. From the timid and nervous individual that Sharn first met at Valley Street Community Centre, Jackie gradually became the bright, bubbly and capable individual that she is today. Now, with a great home, a handle on her finances and a more positive outlook on life, Jackie now wanted to take the next step and gain employment to build a better future for herself and her son.

Jackie begins her journey into employment

Sharn introduced her to her colleague Scott Brerton, a Community Employment Advisor who met with Jackie and talked about her previous employment history and what sort of work she would like to do in the future. Jackie had done administration and receptionist work and it was this kind of work she would like to do. Scott worked with Jackie to write a CV and over a period of weeks, supported Jackie in both searching for and applying for jobs, while Sharn still met with her on a regular basis to provide her with support.

Jackie was eventually successful in securing an interview with a manufacturing company called Marbill Developments, located in Altham, six miles from Jackie’s Burnley home. Realising that this could be a life-changing opportunity for Jackie, Sharn and Scott worked together to ensure she had the maximum chance of being offered the job. While Scott worked with Jackie to prepare her for the interview, Sharn used the website to illustrate how financially better off she would be if she secured the role and even took her shopping for some smart interview clothes to boost her confidence.

On the morning of the interview, Jackie was due to meet Scott at Valley Street Community Centre to go through some final interview preparation. Unfortunately, there was no sign of Jackie. Scott called Jackie to see if she was OK. Jackie answered and she told him that she was having second thoughts about the interview and that she was afraid that it would be a negative experience. During this thirty minute phone call, Scott explained to Jackie that only positives could come from it, that there was nothing to be scared of and that even if she wasn’t successful, it would be useful experience for any further interviews. Jackie agreed to go to the interview.

Jackie got the job, but the support doesn’t end there…

Jackie was elated to be offered the part-time role of receptionist at Marbill Developments, with hours that fit well with her son’s school hours. However, Newground’s support for Jackie didn’t end there. Because Jackie had been on benefits for a number of years, it was important that her transfer into employment was managed carefully. To help with this, Sharn accompanied Jackie to Burnley Jobcentre Plus to sign her off Universal Credit. Thanks to a very helpful member of staff at the job centre, Jackie received a free month’s bus pass to help her get to and from work as well as money for her first month’s childcare, two issues that she had been worrying about.

Jackie looks forward to the future and reflects on her journey

Jackie started her role at Marbill Developments on 23 July 2018. She texted Scott picture of her desk on her first day with the words “I’m loving it Scott, everyone is so down to earth here”.

Sharn has continued to meet up with Jackie to support her and at their first meeting since re-entering employment.  Jackie reflected on the journey she had been on since she first met Sharn at Valley Street Community Centre:

“Sharn… You changed my life. Thank you.”



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