Emma’s story: How Talent Match helped me

Emma’s story: How Talent Match helped me

Sadie White No Comment

Emma Smith grew up surrounded by drug use and heavy drinking.

There were times too when she saw people she cared about being subjected to mental and physical abuse.

Her experiences didn’t break her – they made her determined not to fall into the same downward spiral.

She reflects: “I didn’t know that the circumstances I lived in weren’t normal. But I did know what drugs and alcohol did to you. And what people could do to you. And I didn’t want to live like that.”

She became fiercely independent. Says Emma: “I was stubborn and closed but also very confident and went off to work in a shop because it gave me money in my pocket.”

But she ended up getting stuck in low-level retail work and hating the fact that she hadn’t got the right qualifications or experience to find another job.

Only when she became a mother at 18 did she find the determination to change her life.

“As soon as I had my daughter Jersey, it was like I had purpose. I wanted more out of life for her and for me,” Emma explains.

To find a better future, the first step was becoming a volunteer at Edlington Community Organisation (ECO) a charity working to improve and regenerate Edlington and make it a better place to live.

She volunteered around her paid job and says: “ECO runs a benefits surgery and a food bank, activities for kids. Being there made me feel I was helping people and I realised even more I was in the wrong job. I felt like I gave everything to the retail company I worked for but got nothing back. I was on a low wage and got into debt and became depressed with it all.”

One day her boss at ECO stepped in to help.

“She said: We can help you. This can be a turning point. It actually was. She put me in touch with Talent Match and I met my coach, Viv.

“She’s helped me massively. She got me onto courses to give me qualifications in Health and Safety, First Aid and paediatric training.

“She was so supportive. She would even take me to my courses. If ever I needed her I knew I could just text her or call her.”

Then came the big life change; Viv enabled Emma to get nine months of paid work as a junior administrator with ECO through the Work Fund placement scheme.

“I got to stay at ECO. I was over the moon. It gave my life purpose,” says Emma, now 25, of Edlington.

“My role included social media marketing, writing letters and greeting customers. But I did so many other things just to help out – I was a face painter, a window cleaner, you name it.”

When her placement ended she went back into retail. “Even though it wasn’t my plan I am very happy. I have a great work family and the company value me,” she says. I want to be able to keep a roof over our heads, pay bills, but also spend as much time as I can with my partner and our daughter, now seven, and this job allows that to happen.”

Emma still wants to support others and is enrolling on beauty course so one day she can give free, confidence-boosting treatments to young women and men.

“I believe if you have a positive attitude positive things happen. I have overcome depression by myself,” she says. “I have Talent Match to thank for all the opportunities given to me – and Viv to thank for all the endless support, wise words and dedication she gave to see me succeed.”

How you can help

Our charity is dedicated to helping Sheffield's young people to reach their full potential and achieve the best out of life, whatever their starting point. To help us to do more to support young people and communities we need your help. Just remember, every penny you donate will make a difference.