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Three inspiring stories for three different experiences - just a small sample of the excellent work from Blackpool Council's 'Chance2Shine' programme

18th October 2019

Alex has been carrying out his 8 week work placement within a small team maintaining the fleet of coaches and buses at the family run business – Walton’s Coaches in Freckleton.

Pictured from left: Jill, Alex, Peter, Mark.

Angela Cartmel: Journey 2 Work Employment Adviser

Alex first engaged with us at the end of November 2018, he was a tad sceptical of being on an employability based programme, but as it was a voluntary opportunity he sat and listened to the help, advice and options that the Journey2Work programme could offer him.  I could physically see him relax and the excitement on his face when I mentioned the Chance2Shine Programme. 


His biggest barrier was the lack of paid employment or voluntary opportunities on his CV, having spent time at University gaining a degree in ICT.  However Alex realised this was not the environment he wanted to pursue a career in.  He wanted to work with his hands and in particular was wanting to work within a transport maintenance role.  Alex was passionate about coaches, and so his journey began.

Feedback from Alex Davies:

I share my passion for buses just like my Grandfather and Great grandfather, who were both bus drivers, so this placement has been a perfect match for me. This placement has given me a whole different outlook to what is required to get a bus on the road- and I find it fascinating. I enjoy the variety of the work, as no two days are the same. I have been assisting with MOT’s, safety inspections and whole host of maintenance jobs.

My technical ICT skills gained from university helped with the new programming systems for the buses; and I much prefer to apply them in this practical way than been stuck in an office environment .The next thing I’d like to do is to be able to apply for my bus licence, but in order to do that I need to gain paid work so I can save up.

Volunteering here has definitely helped me decide on my career path; I find that I am at my happiest in this environment and working alongside such lovely people is a bonus. I will be honest I was sceptical when I first came to Positive Steps into Work, but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’d like to thank Chance2Shine for introducing me to Walton’s Coaches and thank them for offering the opportunity.


Jill Atherton: Transport Manager

Alex is very enthusiastic and confident and enjoys a challenge. In the time he has been here he has opened up and has settled in nicely. He shows real dedication and focus which is a joy to see; and he clearly enjoys the work he has been given by my husband Peter, who has mentored him. If we had vacancies we would definitely employ him, as he shares the passion for the business and fits into the team really well.

Peter Atherton


Alex has much improved since he started and he has quickly picked up the requirements of the job at hand. He is using his initiative more, now that he has got into the rhythm, and his confidence has grown as a result.


Aimi O’Donnell: Chance2Shine Employer Relationship Manager

Walton’s Coaches have provided Alex with a fabulous work placement, imparting their knowledge and skills and involving him in every process. I wish Alex every success in reaching his full potential in gaining that dream job. The whole Chance2Shine team are delighted in the knowledge that we have provided that steer in the right direction and know that the skills he’s learnt will help him reach that goal.

Leanne Currey: Employment Adviser

Claire was referred to me via her BCH More Positive Together Officer, Hannah.

Claire’s barrier to employment was the fact she had been an ‘Army Wife’ and had not been in paid employment for over 10 years. During this time, she had dedicated her time to raising her children, supporting her husband and completing voluntary work/fundraising. Claire also had restrictions due to childcare as she had 4 young children.

My first suggestion was a work placement, this was to increase her skills, build confidence, gain work references and trial balancing work/family life. I made a referral into Chance2shine, and they sourced an Admin placement within the Council within our Waste Services Team at Bristol Avenue, which was local to her and suited her availability.

Claire completed her placement (even whilst struggling with some health issues) and the experience reassured her the Admin was the field she wanted to work in. We then updated her CV, and started to actively apply for work. We completed a Better Off Calculation to ensure financial security for the family.

Claire dedicated her time to applying for jobs, sending them to me to proof-read before submission. Before long she had secured interviews, then an offer of employment! This was great news.

However, around the same time, she had declined an interview for another role with Aspired Futures, even though she felt much more suited to this role.  When I questioned this, it became apparent that Claire regretted the decision to decline interview. I spoke with our Employer Relationship Manager- Aimi, who then spoke with the employer and explained the situation.

We then had several discussions, weighing up options, looking at finances, etc. The employer very kindly offered to interview her even though the round of interviews had ended. I am pleased to say Claire had an interview, completed a work trial and is now in employment.



Feedback from Claire Buckley:

After searching for work around childcare hours and not getting anywhere I found out about HealthWorks through my children's school. I joined HealthWorks with Leanne in September in the hope of just getting some experience. I got this and much more! The staff got to know me and my personal situation and would ensure what I was applying for would be suited all things considered. 

Once we realised the main thing holding me back was experience Leanne set up a placement for me. Location, times and days played perfectly into my personal life to ensure I would be getting the best of the experience but also showed me there are positions out there that can make it work around childcare.  Once the placement ended I was very sad to leave and they were sad to lose me but they couldn't keep me on as paid staff, so Leanne and I were back to job searching and with the new experience on my CV things quickly changed. Interviews became a plenty, and two job offers came at the same time. Leanne sat down with me and talked me through my options. We both knew which my heart lay with but Leanne had to let me make the decision. 

At the time of writing this, I am in my 4th week of paid employment with Aspired Futures, and it feels like I've been here for ages. The staff have been so welcoming and brilliant at helping me learn their ways to keeping the charity a success, and I couldn't be happier to say -I have a job that I absolutely love. I look forward to helping the team here continue to make Aspired Futures a charity that so many children and young people in Blackpool are proud to be a part of. I sure am. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for HealthWorks and all they do. So thank you for changing my life. 


Feedback from the Employer: Aspired Futures

This programme has worked very well for Aspired Futures.  As a small charity we do not have a large recruitment advertising budget to access the commercial employment agency market.  However, it is as important to us to recruit the right person as it is to any other business.  Possibly even more important; as holders of grant funding and donations it is vital that we are prudent with the money we receive and that our whole team of colleagues is effective, efficient and fully engaged in the services we provide to vulnerable children and young people.

The Chance2Shine pre-selection of candidates has been tremendously helpful.  The training, work experience and support offered to candidates prior to application strengthened and developed skills which vastly improved employability.  It was also clear to us when Claire attended interview that she had been given guidance and full information about the opportunity to work with us and had already discussed her interest and suitability for the role.  As a result, she was an enthusiastic candidate.

We were very pleased to be able to offer Claire the opportunity to put in to practice the skills she gained during previous training and have committed to provide Claire with further professional development with a structured training plan and appraisal system.


Kola Kewel was referred through Chance2Shine via Positive Steps Employment Adviser, Paul Stevenson.


What a brilliant performance in showing how a job should be done, with the right approach and enthusiasm which stems from the core of the man. A committed family man, full of integrity and always greets you with a tremendous smile. His barriers into work have been pulled down and he has made this provision work just like it should. Like I said before he has journeyed from Real Betis in Spain to Blackpool and even picked up some of the lingo.

Feedback from Employer: James Gradwell, Manager at Axis Hounds Hill


Kola has finished his Chance2Shine experience with Houndshill Cleaning Team, the work he showed is that of a loyal, hardworking and valuable member to any team, and I have​ recognised this by offering Kola a cleaning role within the centre. He accepted this and we now enjoy having him on board as a paid member of staff.

Kola proved himself in multiple areas within the site and raised the standard of work which has made him a very well-liked member with the team.​ Kola is a calm collective individual who just needed that chance to show what he is capable​ of. He is keen to work and add new skills to his repertoire.

Feedback from Kola Kewel:


The work placement gave me a real opportunity to prove my abilities. The positive feedback I received boosted my confidence and gave me hope.


Axis recognised my hard work and offered me a zero hour’s contract carrying out the same duties I did on placement; and now I’m working 30 hour shifts Monday –Thursday. I’m now able to include my wife and children into my work life balance. I received good guidance throughout my interaction with The Positive Steps Into Work team and am now this has opened up further opportunities for my wife to look for a part time job to fit around my job.


I’d like to thank everyone involved in helping me on my journey back into work; with special thanks to the Chance2Shine team who got me the opportunity and liaised with me throughout. I would recommend this journey to anyone who is struggling to find work.

Chance2Shine perspective: Aimi O’Donnell - Employer Relationship Manager


Kola was an excellent candidate who grasped the opportunity to prove himself with Axis. The management team quickly recognised his dedication to the role and offered him a contract in March this year, and he started work in April 2019. Congratulations Kola- wishing you all the very best for the future; and glad this has now given you and your family the opportunity to make plans and feel more secure.

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