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My journey with PAWS

I never thought this time last year I could say I am employed, my health is in a stable position and I am surrounded by people who I adore working with.

While doing my A Levels, I established that going to university and continuing with education really wasn’t for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning aspect of school but everything that came with it, not so much. The pressure that I put on myself over the years fueled by the education system to go above and beyond to get A*s and get into top league universities led to ridiculous amounts of stress leading to my diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 2017. I had to drop all my GCSEs apart from Maths and English and adjust my expectations of myself. I repeated year 11 and did another 2 GCSEs. It was already hard enough being bed ridden and only making it into school for 2/3 hours a week but now my friends were moving on to sixth form/college.

I applied for universal credit in May 2021, I was finally out of education and having a helping hand with money was extremely beneficial. I planned to spend the summer working on my self confidence and get involved with some volunteering. Volunteering was a way to get myself into a work environment that would not have the pressure and responsibilities that a standard 9-5 job has. November 2021 comes around very quickly…after starting volunteering at my local charity shop for a couple months with that helping my confidence immensely, I decided it was time to adventure into the working world.

Enter PAWS!

When my work coach messaged me with details for a kickstarter job in an animal therapy company, I was shocked. She had previously told me jobs with animals are in very high demand and not many available to the kickstarter scheme. I jumped at this opportunity and the next thing you know, I’ve got an interview.

It was my first ever job interview and I was very nervous but as soon as I met Nici, I knew I would be fine. She was so kind and the interview very much felt like a normal conversation at times.

Nici and the whole PAWS team are incredible. My main anxieties about starting a new job

was my health and the expectations that were expected of me…I had nothing to worry about. I feel as though I have been extremely lucky to be surrounded by such amazing, comforting people that have supported me. My job title is Social Media and Marketing however Nici tends to call me her ‘everything’ person. I have learnt so much from PAWS. I’ve gained a few qualifications that will further benefit my career progression such as Pet First Aid, Canine Body Language, Understanding Autism and I’m currently doing a counselling skills course. The insight that Nici and my other colleagues have given me about therapy dogs, dog behaviour and the animal assisted therapy world is immense and I cannot be grateful enough for the education I’ve received from this company.

PAWS has been my introduction into the animal therapy world and one I want to continue on with in my career. My future goals are to first…get a dog and second, become qualified to be part of the professional team to support our clients and be an advocate for neurodiveristy, mental wellbeing and animal wellbeing.

My kickstarter sixth month contract came to an end mid May, with the reassurance from Nici that she definitely wanted to keep me on and I definitely wanted to stay on with her and PAWS. I couldn’t be happier with how 2022 is going for me and very excited to be on this journey with PAWS.

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