Wales

Wrexham woman says 'work traineeship scheme changed my life'

Sophie McCue
Image caption Sophie McCue "never smiled" before she went on the work scheme

A woman who describes her early life as "difficult" with "no hopes" for the future, said a scheme to help disadvantaged women get into work had changed her life.

Sophie McCue, 21, was a young carer and had relationships that "didn't really work".

She was living in supported accommodation and was at her lowest point when she heard about the scheme.

"[Life was] hectic, big family. Over time things got too much... it was manic... I was with Young Carers. They helped me to leave home and they got me into supported housing and they suggested WeMindTheGap."

The project, based in Wrexham, has now received £1.1m of National Lottery funding, allowing it to increase opportunities for women in Wales and the north-west of England, it said.

It helps women who are leaving full-time care, are ex-offenders, have suffered domestic abuse and/or live in assisted housing, or are identified by local agencies as being disadvantaged in some other way.

The lottery grant means it can now grow its core team to set up 16 traineeships in different communities across the country.

By 2023 it aims to provide six months' employment for 160 trainees in 16 different communities, sustain continued support for more than 450 graduate trainees, work with more than 140 local employers and create an additional 40 jobs.

WeMindTheGap founder and chairman Rachel Clacher is also co-founder of outsourced communications company Moneypenny.

"We saw a real need to address social mobility in our community," Ms Clacher said.

"This is not about ticking boxes, it's about business and communities, and helping young women."

'I didn't really care about me'

Ms McCue said she never thought she would end up working somewhere like Moneypenny, which is where she was placed.

Laura Colombine is a WeMindTheGap mentor and was Sophie's "big sister" during her six-month traineeship. She said the change in her had been remarkable.

"When Sophie arrived on the scheme she was nervous, and a bit angry and confused with where she would go in life... Throughout the six months we saw her confidence grow hugely. She started making her own goals for the future. She became sure of what she wanted to do."

Ms McCue was trained in the accounts department at Moneypenny and has gone on to work as an instructor for activity holiday firm PGL, and for a supermarket. She now has her own flat and can see a future for herself.

"I was probably the most negative person you'd ever see, never smiling," she said.

"I was more focused on my brothers and making sure they were ok. I didn't really care about me. Now I do.

"It's opened my doors really, shining a light on to my life in future."

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