An apprenticeship helped Karren find the perfect balance between learning and earning

I was at a cross road in my career and needed to do something very different.

I had been a volunteer for Mungo’s – working with rough sleepers in Waterloo delivering cookery workshops for 12 months and decided to apply for a support worker post at King George’s.  My first impressions of the scheme were amazing.  I met a rough sleeper called James who gave me a tour of the building and asked me several questions as we walked around.  I’m not sure what impression I left on James but we both had a sense of humour and shared several jokes to soften the harsh reality of what living at King George’s was like.  For James he was living with 68 rough sleepers who continued to use drugs.

I got the job and progressed to become the manager of King George’s delivering three different contracts for Westminster, a substance misuse gateway, a mental health pathway and 54 beds for entrenched rough sleepers service.  What I loved most was being able to be innovative in my approach to working with customers. I was able to use positive psychology, a strength based approach, to making a different to the customers I worked with. Leading a staff team and using reflective practice to support their wellbeing and practice.

I took up the role of Business Readiness Manager, on a secondment, after 15 years of managing services and I’m leading on the transformation agenda for the Care and Support of the business. Working strategically to deliver change management for the business definitely required a set of skills that lead to me to recognise that I had gaps in my knowledge.

After facing my fears about returning to learning and the struggles of balancing work with studying, and combining these issues with being more mature and feeling less than, I enrolled to complete a 24 month apprenticeship in Associate Project Management L4.  Giving me the opportunity to invest in myself whilst being supported by the business and put everything I’m learning to practise.

In terms of my personal development and working for Riverside, I can honestly say there is no better opportunity to truly invest in yourself whilst being supported in your job, so this is a win: win to me. I’ve never been happier.