Q&A with Edward Wilkinson “It was time for a new challenge, but also time to deliver my family some Stability” Edward Wilkinson had achieved all he had set out to achieve in his career as a chef and was ready for something new. Edward bravely took the first step and joined the digital sector-based work academy with Inspira to explore his next steps back into employment. Here is his story. What work were you previously doing? I joined the hospitality trade on leaving secondary education. For over 30 years I have steadily progressed from commis chef to head chef and gained two rosettes for my food in the last ten years. What are you doing now? Through support from Inspira online, I have managed to secure employment with Lakeland in Kendal as a Warehouse Operative. This role is completely different, but it is one that I am finding very enjoyable and stress free especially during this Covid-19 pandemic. Why did you change? I was sadly made redundant due to a downturn in trade and ill health. I wanted to move back into employment as soon as possible to support my family and when I read the details about the course with Inspira, I thought, this is right for me as it had guaranteed interviews at the end. Edward was supported by Inspira to build his confidence following redundancy, to recognise and list his transferable skills, and to explore opportunities in the local labor market. Are you happy about the change? Absolutely! I would be lying if I did not admit that I am missing the hospitality sector, but this career change has been the right thing for me. I am finding the hours more compatible and the job less stressful. Anyway, it was time for a new challenge, but also time to deliver my family some stability. How did you find out about the Sector-Based Work Academy at Inspira? There is a huge amount of help out there, the question for me was knowing who can help me when so much is changing. I was informed by my JCP work coach about the opportunities via Inspira for Lakeland In Kendal. I thought, well I need a change, I need a wage, why not give it a go. What went well? What did not go so well? The course with Inspira went well and the tutor was very supportive throughout. I was really pleased that she took the time to call me before it started as I was very nervous about doing a video call online as my IT skills are very basic. However, thanks to the call and the instruction sheet she sent me in advance, I was able to access the course with no problem. In terms of anything that did not go so well, there is nothing to add except for a poor internet connection at times in my locality. What have you learned in the process? To accept change, to remain confident in my own abilities, to be confident that this is the right decision, and accept there will be highs and lows. What would you advise others to do in the same situation? Be honest with yourself and the situation you find yourself in. Involve your family in your decisions and ask for help. I was not aware of Inspira and their support services until this was suggested to me by my JCP work coach. Just talk to someone and you never know what it can lead to.