Testimonials From New Steps Participants

I would highly recommend the New Steps and New Futures Employability Programmes to any Single Parent who is thinking of going on to further Education or thinking of pursuing a career. I am delighted to have gotten to experience both courses.

The New Steps Programme is a really a condensed version of the New Futures Employability Programme. When I first came onto New Steps I had very low self-esteem and self-belief. I hadn’t been in the workforce for so long, but I knew that it was time to do something for myself. New Steps offered me the tools to build up my confidence and improve communication skills. I felt supported throughout New Steps by the One Family team and as a result it gave me enough confidence to apply for a CE scheme.

I progressed to the New Future Programme, and I was also able to start the CE scheme alongside this. I felt more prepared for New Futures after doing News Steps previously. I also recognised some friendly faces from the New Steps course which made me feel at ease to express myself to the group. Everyone is assigned a keyworker while doing the course which I found beneficial as I was able to discuss aspects of the personal development in a confidential way. I found keywork support helpful as I had some challenges initially with my CE work experience, during the sessions with my keyworker I learnt useful approaches in assertive communication, this in affect helped me to stay with the CE scheme. I personally feel that my confidence has improved greatly, and I have more of a positive mindset due to taking part in these programmes. Doing these courses, you realise your mental health is more important than any job but saying this it is also important to establish personal goals for oneself, it helps aid wellbeing and gives you a sense of achievement. Single parenting can feel lonely at times, and it doesn’t feel so lonely when you can share with others your experiences in a confidential safe setting, guided and surrounded by a supportive team at all times. I got the opportunity to express the things I love to do and to be able to share this with others brought me such joy and happiness. As a single parent, we can sometimes feel lost as individuals, we give all our energies in looking after others. There is a balance needed in your life which you learn on your journey through New Future Programme. The main learning I took from this programme is that in any life pursuit, your mental health wellbeing is of paramount importance. A happy parent/ is a happy child. You have the power to change things for the better. Just believe in yourself!!

Thank you so much One family Team for bringing out the best in me by believing in me and encouraging me throughout.

Before starting the New Steps programme my relationship had ended. I have 2 very young kids and was only starting to gain back some of the confidence I had lost. I saw a post on Facebook for New Steps and decided to apply to get me back out there mixing with people with a view to progressing the New Futures afterwards and going to college and getting my life back on track. 

The New Steps programme was a god send! I learned how to deal with so many different emotions I was struggling with and instead of letting them get on top of me I learned new strategies to cope with them and not let them weigh me down. I also learned to look at life from a different perspective. 

It was great to meet with other people in similar situations and know that I am not alone. The help and support from key workers was second to none and I would advise anyone, no matter what your background or struggles, to try this programme as it’s one of the best decisions I made. I am now in a part time job and my life has improved incredibly since completing the courses. I found it such a great help and I’d love to do it all again. 

Testimonials From New Futures Participants

“As a single parent, I have always struggled to balance the demands of parenting and pursuing my own personal and professional growth. However, this programme has truly been a game-changer for me and has opened a world of opportunities that I never thought possible.

What sets the New Future’s Programme apart is its approach, addressing both Personal and Interpersonal Development as well as Career Planning. This unique combination ensured that I received a well-rounded education that caters to my individual needs and aspirations.

One of the most valuable aspects of the New Futures Programme is the group training delivered two mornings per week over Zoom. The sessions are engaging, informative, and empowering. Through interactive workshops, group discussions, and practical exercises, I have gained valuable insights into various aspects of personal growth, such as self-confidence, communication skills, and resilience. The trainer was highly knowledgeable and skilled at creating a supportive environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their experiences and learning from one another and on a week-to-week basis friendships grew.

One Family recognizes that being a single parent or sharing parenting responsibilities can come with unique challenges, and they offer assistance and guidance in areas such as childcare, financial planning, and accessing community resources.

Another highlight of the New Futures Programme is the individual 1:1 key working sessions. These sessions provided personalized help, support and guidance tailored to my specific needs and goals. The keyworker I was assigned was incredibly supportive, offering valuable insights, helping me identify my strengths and interests, who championed me every step of the way and assisted me in creating a clear career plan. The individual attention I received made me feel valued and motivated to pursue my aspirations.

Since completing the New Futures Programme, I have experienced a tremendous transformation in my personal and professional life. Not only have I acquired new skills and knowledge, but I have also gained a renewed sense of confidence and self-belief in myself.

Without the New Futures Programme. I don’t think I would have the confidence to really excel myself to the personal accomplishments that this course has given me. The programme has helped me realize my full potential and given me the tools to navigate the job market with a clear vision of my career goals.

I cannot recommend the New Futures Programme enough. It is a truly life-changing opportunity for single parents and those sharing parenting responsibilities.”

Here I am nearly forty, feeling young and powerful like never before.

How did I get here?

With the help from my keyworker and the others who work on New Futures team.

My journey started when I was 19 and came to Ireland. This was my first time away from home, from family and from comfort. A land with a strange language and a different culture but I was determined to try and make it work like many of us who came here to make better lives for ourselves.

Forward on the years and life turned a little bit different than I had planned. I was a stay-at-home parent to four children and during that time due to separation became a lone parent.

The kids were so sad, so angry. Mostly angry with me because who else would take their pain away. I felt so guilty, blamed myself for their every tear. I think this was the time when I completely lost myself. I tried too hard to compensate for their loss of a standard family. The saddest thing was that I neglected ME as a person. What is a manicure or outing for coffee with a friend? Those things were for someone else but surely not for me. Most importantly I had no college education. I felt stupid and worthless, I felt so sad all the time and was too ashamed to show my feelings or tell anyone about it. I was stuck in a vicious circle of endless self-doubt.

Taking the “New Futures” course was like a breath of fresh air. It was perfect for what I needed at this point in my life as my children are older now. All the women that were attending the course on zoom were very kind-hearted and so supportive as we were all in the same boat, going through very similar life experiences and most importantly we all felt somewhat lesser to what we were worth. It was very comforting to be able to share your emotions and worries without being judged. I benefitted hugely when we covered the Personal Development topic, it boosted my self-esteem enormously. The Career planning topic helped me to realise how many fabulous skills I developed throughout my experience in life. My keyworker made sure to point them out when we were creating my first ever CV! I’ll never forget her positive comments about my skills. According to her I am a talented and determined individual who can stay motivated through all of life’s ups and downs. I attended the Mock Interview and although really nervous I remembered what my keyworker and I had practised, and I actually enjoyed the experience and learned from the feedback. We spent time really exploring what would be a realistic next step for me and going to college was my goal.

This inspired me to follow through with my education, and to continue my journey of self-growth and development. This September I returned to further education and am currently studying Psychology and Social science and loving it.

If somebody told me this time last year that I will be where I am right now with my dreams and plans, I would of not believed them. I will be forever grateful for this experience and support that I received from the New Futures programme. Thank you!

I have recently completed New Futures Employability Programme with One Family in Personal Development and Career Planning. I decided to do this as I was at a point in my life where I felt very lost, stuck, and uncertain about my future. I have had a tough few years dealing with ongoing health issues but I was determined to get my life back on track and thought it would be a good idea to do the course to help me figure out what to do next and how to move forward.

When I started the course, I found it very comforting to be with a group of women that were in the same kind of situation to me. Obviously, we all have our own back stories that brought us to this point but we all had something in common. We were all parenting alone and wanted to improve our future for ourselves and for our families but weren’t sure about what to do next. The more the course went on the more we shared and bonded over similar struggles we faced as lone parents. We became a great source of comfort and support for each other. From listening to each other I think we were able to gain a greater sense of compassion and understanding for ourselves, as we could really relate and empathise with each other. Everyone was so lovely and raw and I know I have made some really great friends that I will keep in touch with.

I have to admit I did not expect the course to entail what it did! I can honestly say it has been life changing for me and what I have learnt doing this course will stay with me forever! I have learnt so much about myself, we explored our beliefs and values and what is important to us. We explored how we were thinking and feeling and how we were talking to ourselves. We were reminded of who we are as individuals and not just as parents. We were reminded of all our achievements, even the little things we do that we don’t give a second thought to that mean so much and make a difference. I began to feel really proud of myself and everything I had achieved in my life so far, which gave me confidence and self-worth I had been missing for so long!

We learnt about stress how it can affect us and learnt how to manage stress in our lives. We learnt how important self-care and self-awareness is. I worked very hard on my self-confidence, self-care, and self-worth. Before I felt I should be doing more and I wasn’t good enough, I felt like a failure. By doing this course it has shown me how to meet myself where I am and accept where I am and realise, I am good enough because I am doing the best I can. It was like something clicked when I realised all this and by accepting this I felt calmer and at peace with myself. As the course went on, the more I learnt and the more I put in to practice, the better I felt! I began to feel confident and stronger and capable of doing more and more!

We explored what career we want to pursue in the future and the practicalities in detail. I got a part-time job while doing the course, but it is not what I see myself doing for the foreseeable. It is a necessity to be able to be financially stable for now but in doing this course I was able to find somewhere that suits me, with like-minded people that I really enjoy. This course has really made me value myself and think about who I am and what I want to do in my life. I realised the time is right for me to pursue 3rd level education. I love learning and want to educate myself on matters I feel passionate about, and I look forward to having a fulfilling career that I get job satisfaction from in the future.

I cannot recommend this course enough, I would encourage anyone who is unsure about their future or what to do next, to do this course. Anyone who does this course will benefit positively from it. The course content is amazing, the tutor and key workers are amazing, and the support One Family can offer you will really help you and your family.

Taking part in the New Futures Programme has helped me get my life back on track, and I don’t say that lightly – it has literally helped me remember who I am as a person with my own needs and dreams beneath the role of being a single parent & taking care of my family.

Throughout the programme I was helped to identify what my strengths and skills are, personally & careerwise, and what I needed to do to achieve my goals. That might sound simple, but it was quite difficult initially as I was unable to even recognise the skills I had & I didn’t even know what I’d like to do anymore, personally or careerwise, it’d been such a long time since I’d considered my own needs, don’t mind start identifying them! During the initial interview they explained that if I took the opportunity & embraced the learning and all the supports made available as fully as possible it would help me get to where I wanted to be.

New Futures is unique because as well as managing to effectively bring together the important aspects of personal development and career planning it also honestly looks at & addresses the challenges and barriers that can exist for single parents – this was the key for me – to be in an environment that really understood those challenges & worked to help us identify ways to achieve our goals, while also identifying sources of support that can help us along the way – this is what was missing from any of the previous training I’d done before.

The amount of support that’s offered in the New Futures Programme is almost incomprehensible until you experience it – from the excellent course Tutor who manages to make the coursework accessible and meet the needs of the group, to the content itself which you can refer back to anytime and work through at your own pace, to the one to one keywork sessions which were instrumental in me being able to actively work towards a long held dream that I had kept to myself for years. The one-to-one parent mentoring sessions were so helpful, as well as all the signposting to other places that can offer support.

The support from the other women in the group was truly like a breath of fresh air – to be in the company of so many other women who were doing everything they could to take care of their families and were still striving to do even more was so inspiring – we really clicked as a group, and it being over zoom didn’t hinder that connection at all, in fact if it hadn’t been online myself and a number of others would never have been able to access the programme as we live rurally, where there are no services available to access for lone parents.

To be part of a group of women who are all living different lives with different circumstances but who all understand the common underlying feelings & experiences of being a lone parent was a really important aspect of the learning – we learnt so much from each other & because we all understand how challenging the day to day reality of parenting alone can be it meant we could support each other from a genuine place of understanding and non-judgement, whether it was by working through the course content, coming together in groups to discuss a particular topic or encouraging each other to apply for a job or research a course in further education.

We were encouraged to become informed, to research & to ask questions – the communication module really helped build our confidence in being able to express our needs.

New Futures goes the extra mile in helping participants to identify their strengths & aspirations and then how to actively pursue them, with supports in place. One Family have managed to do all this because they’re coming from a place that truly understands what life can be like as a single parent in Ireland, and as well as all the down to earth and compassionate understanding they give they also offer the belief that things can get better, that you do matter, that you have value & that you can achieve your goals and that’s invaluable really because sometimes when you’ve lost sight of that yourself as a tired and burnout single parent you need someone else who believes in you and who will actively help you to move forward, until such time as you can believe these things for yourself again.

My advice to anyone considering the New Futures Programme is pick up the phone or send an email and register your interest and if you are offered a place on the programme to grab it with both hands. Make sure to carve out the time to attend the classes & complete your assignments because you will definitely reap the rewards, and make sure to keep a journal from day 1 because it becomes a brilliant tool to remind you of all the areas you’ve gained insight into and learnt about yourself – your needs, dreams, skills and future options – Take all the support that’s offered to you, take the time needed to really take on board the coursework & what comes along during keywork sessions or parent mentoring sessions, say yes to it all. There’s no shame in needing support, that’s something I wish I’d learnt years ago, but at least I know it now. Saying yes to a place on the New Futures Programme is like you saying yes to yourself.

When I first interviewed for a place on the New Futures course, I distinctly remember saying to the woman conducting the interview that I was pretty sure I was ‘unemployable.’ My exact words. I had spent the last several years at home with my autistic son, whom I had been home-schooling as well.

Imagine my surprise when she told me that I would already have acquired skills that were translatable to the world of employment: skills like organisation, good timekeeping, self-discipline, determination, patience, and perseverance, as well as the more academic ones that accrue from having your nose permanently stuck in a book…!

Then I started on the New Futures course and I learned other valuable skills, first of all from the Personal Development section: how to combat negative thoughts (I was the queen of negative thoughts); how to use clear and direct communication, as opposed to just expecting other people to read my mind and then getting annoyed when they couldn’t; how to identify my own needs and values and how to go about fulfilling the needs while staying true to the values; how to handle stress (we all need this!) and how to keep a journal and use it to support my learning.

In the Career Planning section, I learned how to identify any ‘prior skills’ and strengths I had that might be applicable to the workplace; how to identify my own learning style and use it to support me; how to identify my goals (and any possible barriers to achieving them) and work towards them; and, finally, how to make the best decisions I was capable of and be happy with them.

As a generally indecisive person, this last one was especially invaluable to me and, since doing the course, my kids have remarked on how much more decisive I seem these days and how, thanks to now having the courage of my convictions, I also give much better and more pro-active advice as well…!

I would whole-heartedly recommend the New Futures course for anyone who, like me, ever thought that they had nothing to offer an employer, or anyone who, again like me, had been out of the loop for so long that the thought of further education seemed like an impossible dream or something that was nothing to do with them. I used to feel like I had no right to even contemplate doing such a thing, that it wasn’t an option that was open to single mothers with kids.

I also have a brighter outlook on the future in general and I feel as if I at least have some element of control over it now. Before, I used to feel like I was just drifting along like a rudderless ship. I used to dread the future, not look forward to it. Whatever happens now, whatever’s coming down the track, I feel like I will at least be able to cope with it. And, for an anxious person like me, that’s like money in the bank.

New Futures gave me the insight to realise my own potential and the confidence to enrol in further education online during the Great Coronavirus Lockdown of 2020.

I attended the New Futures programme 2017-2018 with One Family and I had many positive experiences.

Firstly I found it a place of comfort knowing all the other women were also single parents dealing with most of the challenges I was dealing with. The feeling of knowing there was other people also struggling trying to make a future for themselves gave me instant confidence. It was nice to not feel alone.

Also having a place to completely give time to ourselves as a person and not just a parent was the core of what I needed. To be able to work on my strengths, my beliefs, my inner me. I learned so much about myself and within weeks I became more positive more happy and more open minded. I felt unstoppable like I could do anything I put my mind too.

Being in One Family every week gave me a routine, structure and meaning to get up and be a part of something for me. I quickly noticed the change at home with my three children too. Daily life was becoming easier because I was happy they were happy and things were getting better for us as a family.

The other girls in the group helped me build my confidence a lot too. They told me things I was good at and often choose me to speak if a speaker was needed. And we all gave advice to each other and helped each other along the way.

One Family provided us with not only a programme that would benefit us all but a place that we could begin being me. Finding our self-worth and opening paths we didn’t know existed.

For me personally I’m very grateful for the services provided and I would highly recommend it to any single parent to give it a go. You have nothing to lose it’s all positive gains to a brighter future. Who wouldn’t want that?

I finished my programme with them in April and by the 7th of May I had my 1st interview for a job. With the confidence I gained from the programme and knowing my self-worth two days later I got offered the job. And now I’m permanently working and it is amazing for me and my girls.

I’m independent I have a comfortable income a great structure and routine going at home and work. I’m happy, positive and smiling that much that everyone that knows me says Sarah you are glowing. So I am totally grateful to One Family for helping to make a difference in my life. And I’m just one of many.

Amazing place; amazing staff; amazing panel of people who work hard to give single families the life they deserve. My life has changed for the better there’s no looking back, onwards and upwards for my family thanks to One Family.