Rachel, now an Administrative assistant at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, tells us how, with a little help from our Get into course, she was able to make sure her bad back didn't stop her from being voted Shropshire's Apprentice of the Year and a full-time member of the team! 

How exactly did you find yourself in this role?

A few years ago, I developed chronic back problems whilst working in a fruit and veg store. Since then I have experienced a dispiriting cycle of job rejections because of my back condition.

In the end I gave up even looking for jobs.

When I heard that The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital was running a Get into programme, I was eager to seize the opportunity. To give myself a better chance at the interview, I even decided to change my hair colour – it had been bright blue! 

A week after the programme had ended, I heard about a one-year apprenticeship in the therapies department – a department I knew nothing about. I applied for it and to my amazement, I secured the post.

I had just been stuck in this slump for so long I thought it would be another ‘no’ once I told them about my health issues.

Without the Get into programme, I'm sure I would never have got the post.

I also found a more tolerant attitude within the therapies department. In fact, I discovered many of my colleagues also had back problems. Overall it’s just a really supportive environment.

What did your apprenticeship role entail?

The apprenticeship itself involved providing administrative support to the four different

therapies offered at the hospital, which are Physio, Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech and Diet. In addition, I also helped in the day-to-day running of the reception area.

What were the highlights for you, and were there any particular challenges?

To begin with, I must admit that I wondered if I’d ever get to grips with it all, but I got a lot of support and I made such progress that, at the end, I was voted Shropshire’s 'Apprentice of the Year' for Business and Administration. I then obtained a permanent Level 2 post as an Administrative assistant in the same department.

I love every aspect of my work and particularly enjoy running reception. There are quite a lot of regular patients and I get to know them quite well, so it’s always nice to have a chat with them.

The department has become like a second home to me. In fact, I spend more time here than I do at home!

I still have good days and bad days with my back, but I have been able to adapt my environment to accommodate these problems.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I have an interest in health and wellness and helping people to lead healthier lifestyles. I also have two pugs which I like to spend time with.

What are your plans for the future? 

Well, whilst on the programme I applied for a business administration apprenticeship within the therapies team at the hospital trust. I was lucky enough to be offered an interview during my fourth week of the Get into programme. By the end of that week I had been offered a 12-month apprenticeship. Following my apprenticeship, I was offered a Band 2 Administration Assistant role. A year later I was promoted to a Band 4 Personal Assistant to the therapies manager. I would like to undertake my Level 3 qualification, and then maybe a step up as an administrative supervisor and ultimately an office manager.

Do you have any advice for other young people?

I strongly recommend the Get into programme to anyone looking for a second chance. I don’t know where I’d be now if I hadn’t done that. It’s changed my life into a much happier one.

I’m much more focused and I’ve got a reason to get up in the morning.