Jacki Greening from Torbay has triumphed against the odds to secure rewarding employment after being diagnosed with a debilitating illness.
Telling her story to celebrate Housing Day, under the theme ‘Real People, True Stories’, Sanctuary Housing resident Jacki started her career working for a bespoke jewellery casting company.
As she was performing the intricate work, she began to notice pains in her joints and following medical investigations, received the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Jacki said: “I just couldn’t believe it – I was distraught and knew it was going to affect all areas of my life.”
With the painful flare ups forcing her to leave a much-loved job, Jacki became depressed. Trying to remain positive, Jacki paid completed a phlebotomy course but with no experience, wasn’t able to find a job. She explains: “I really hit rock bottom. I wanted so much to be able to work, but it seemed that even when I tried I couldn’t find anything and the rheumatoid arthritis really restricted what I could do. I’d lost a lot of my confidence.”
After 12 years of unemployment, the now 55-year-old came across a free volunteers training course run by Totally Teenagers, a local organisation funded by Sanctuary Housing that supports Torbay young people to get involved in positive activities. Jacki commented: “After so many years out of work, I was nervous but decided I had nothing to lose, and despite everything that had happened I still wanted to give the course a try.”
Enrolling on the training, Jacki’s enthusiasm, talent and selflessness shone through, with staff from Totally Teenagers recognising her potential and securing further funding in order to be able to offer her paid employment in October 2015.
Since then, Jacki hasn’t looked back and is now an integral part of the Totally Teenagers set-up. With her on the team, the project has been able to develop new initiatives encouraging parents and carers to strengthen bonds with young people through creative arts and crafts sessions, as well as providing training to cook healthily on a budget. Jacki commented: “I can’t believe the difference in my life from three years ago, to now. After so many years of looking I’ve finally found something that suits me and which I’m good at, and the team’s faith in my abilities has been inspirational.”