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Read Rebeca’s story about her journey to becoming a Foothold volunteer.
Hi, I’m Rebeca, and I currently live in the northeast of Brazil with my daughter Beatriz and my dog Sophie.
I’ve always been close with my family over here, but back in 2010 I decided to move to England after getting married. I was very young at just 22 years old, but I was excited for this new chapter of my life.
I eventually secured a job within the IET’s finance team as a System Administrator. It was an enjoyable experience, and I loved working with such a friendly and supportive team. That was how I met Foothold.
Struggling to cope
A few years passed and I fell pregnant with my first child. My healthy baby girl arrived, but it was at this point that my longing for my family back home intensified.
In Brazil, it’s still customary, by the majority, for grandmothers to be close to their daughters when they become a mother, especially in the first six months when the new mum will need more help with the baby and house chores.
Although I was blessed to have my mum helping us out in the first three months of my baby’s life, after she went back to Brazil, I was having to cope with all the new emotions, responsibilities and challenges that motherhood brings without her support. I really missed having my family nearby.
The six months that followed were some of the most difficult I’ve ever been through. Alongside caring for our newborn daughter, applying for my citizenship and revising for exams, we were starting to experience financial trouble after my husband lost his job and our car broke down, all while I was still on maternity leave.
I was emotionally and physically drained, and felt totally overwhelmed by everything that was going on.
Reaching out to Foothold
I’d gone back into the office for a maternity leave ‘Keep in Touch’ day, and noticed a message from Foothold in my inbox.
Until now I’d always skimmed over their emails about the support they offered to people in the engineering community, but something was different this time. It was like the email was speaking directly to me. I discussed it with my manager, and she strongly advised me to get in touch with them.
It was from this point on that some of the hardships I was facing started to improve. I’m not an engineer, but because of my connection with the IET, Foothold was able to provide my husband and I with a regular grant so that we could cover our bills, get our car fixed and get our finances back on track.
And by providing me with a one-off grant that would cover the cost of flights, Foothold ensured we were able to visit our family back in Brazil and be able to introduce our 5-month-old daughter to everyone. That was really helpful as we weren’t able to finance our flights to Brazil that year so wouldn’t have had the chance to see our family after such a significant event in our lives – our first child coming to the world.
However, despite my best efforts, and additional support from Foothold that included couple’s counselling and psychotherapy sessions, my marriage came to an end. After that Foothold even supported me by giving me access to a Legal Advice helpline.
They also offered me three months’ worth of career coaching sessions to help me find a new job once my current fixed-term employment contract had come to an end.
Becoming a Foothold volunteer
I had come to realise that the Foothold team had become like a family to me too. They had supported me through the darkest of times, and had even shown me kindness through little things such as sending me handwritten cards and a food hamper on my birthday (twice!).
So, when the opportunity came up to become a Foothold volunteer and give something back to them after everything they had done for me, I couldn’t pass it up.
The best thing about volunteering for Foothold – aside from the fact that you get to make a real difference to people’s lives – is that they match the roles available to the volunteer’s skillsets. Because I was experienced in bookkeeping, I was given the role of assisting community members who were struggling with limitations or disabilities to complete administrative tasks, such as dealing with important paperwork.
Not only is this a brilliant way to help people like me who really needed Foothold’s support, but it also enables volunteers to hone their skills and play to their strengths, which makes for a brilliant opportunity to develop yourself and broaden your prospects. It’s also a nice way of keeping in touch with the Foothold team, who are all so lovely to work with.
Being able to show my gratitude to Foothold for all their help and kindness was a truly great feeling.
My advice to fellow community members
I have no doubt that God’s blessings were present through Foothold’s support and care towards me and those around me. So, to anyone who’s going through the same sorts of challenges as I did, I’d say: don’t be afraid to ask for support.
There are so many ways Foothold can help you if you’re struggling, whether it’s enabling you to keep your head above the water financially, giving you access to professional help if you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed, or offering career support if you’re job hunting but have no idea how to prepare for it.
They also have plenty of volunteering roles available, so even if you’re doing okay, you can still do your bit to help them support community members like me. Trust me – you won’t regret it!
If you’re struggling with your finances and you need someone to turn to, your Foothold is here. We’ll help you get back in control and access the support you need to thrive. Get in touch with us now.