Penny Wilkinson from Ushaw Moor had been out of work for seven years after deciding to educate her then eight-year-old son Dane at home.
She then did voluntary work for various local charities while trying to find full-time employment.
She said: “I always thought I’d be suitable for an admin role as I’m generally very organised – I had to be when I was schooling Dane. I have an English degree but having been out of work for so long, my lack of work experience was a problem, so I decided to take another route and gain other qualifications to put on my CV and impress prospective employers.”
Penny approached Durham-based Finchale College, which provides specialist vocational training to help long-term unemployed people back into work. She embarked on an intensive 16-week customer service course which gave her the chance to gain qualifications in word processing, proofreading and text production, as well as certificates in health and safety, manual handling, food hygiene and fire warden activities.
Her achievements led to a six-week placement at Four Housing and she impressed the Durham-based firm sufficiently to earn a full-time role as a maintenance administrator.
Penny, 41, said: “It goes to show that it’s never too late to learn new skills and start a new career. I’m grateful for the support of Finchale College and Four Housing, which gave me the support and confidence I was lacking previously.”
Four Housing manages more than 5,000 properties across the North East of England, stretching from Redcar and Cleveland to Berwick, and is committed to building sustainable communities across the region.
Andrea Brown of Four Housing said: “We were really impressed by Penny’s work ethic and broad range of skills, which has allowed her to come in and hit the ground running from day one. We are very committed to our local communities and are especially keen to assist with employment training and helping people back into the workplace.
“Penny’s training gave her the attributes that Four Housing were looking for so it’s a win-win situation all round.”