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Mum says she’s ‘back to being me’ after laptop loan scheme ends 20 year wait for work

A mum of five says she’s “back to being me” after a scheme which loans laptops to long-term unemployed people ended her 20-year wait for work.

Sireena Jones, 45, had “hit rock bottom” while struggling for money and confidence at the same time as being a full-time mum, but is now delighted being back on her feet after turning her fortunes around.

Sireena, from Penrhys, was on Universal Credit and looking to get back into work when staff at her local job centre in Porth put her in touch with Communities for Work Plus (CfW+), an employment support service for people who are in or at risk of poverty and who face barriers stopping them taking up training and employment.

The Welsh Government-funded project gives support to help build confidence, get work experience, learn new skills or write a CV, and its digital device loans scheme allows people to loan out equipment like Chromebooks to search for and complete job applications or courses.

Sireena said she had been keen to learn new skills and search for new job opportunities, but struggled to do so without originally having access to a laptop.

She said: “I was out of work for 20-odd years. Before that I was in a packing factory in Pentre.

“I’ve got five kids. My oldest is 25 and my youngest is 14. I started struggling financially and my confidence started going and I basically just hit rock bottom. I wanted a change and wanted to get back to being me.”

After CfW+ loaned Sereena the Chromebook, she completed five work-related online courses on subjects like employability, customer skills, and working with IT over 12 weeks, before being helped to search for jobs online.

“It was simple enough, and loaning the laptop made me more technical to be honest, because before then I didn’t have a clue,” she said.

“If I was ever getting problems I could speak to someone over the phone who could explain things to me, because this was going on during the pandemic.

“Whatever advice and support I needed, I got. They were really helpful. They helped find me jobs and arranging interviews and taking me to interviews.”

Near the end of 2021 Sireena successfully applied for a job at the Project Red recycling centre in Llantrisant, where she is now a valued full-time member of staff.

She added: “Since I started working it’s really boosted my confidence and I’m enjoying being back working. It’s really changed me for the better.”

Are you looking for work? Do you need a laptop or digital device to help you learn new skills, re-write your CV or apply for jobs online? We’re working with Communities for Work to lend devices to job seekers.