Sandra Long

I’ve had a lot of jobs in the past – I’ve worked in factories and in retail. In 1972 I was working in a tailoring factory, making those safari suits for men that were so fashionable, if you remember them? Then I was made redundant twice in the same year. But I always found another job to go to. My last full time employment was in 1984 in a factory. Then, during my marriage, I worked as a part time cleaner but when, after 23 years, my husband and I got divorced, I needed to find full time work again.

The Job Centre has what they call Over 40s Returneeships, and they were offering placements in charity shops or in manufacturing. I actually have qualifications in retail already and I’ve worked in lots of places, but it’s all a long time ago and they want you to have recent experience. All the shops seem to be closing down anyway. But anything seemed better than watching the telly all day, so I said I would come here to the Trust on one of these Returneeships and see what it was like, though I’d no idea what to expect. The work is fine – we do all sorts, putting kits together, sticking on barcode labels, rolling edge tape on, and using a machine. We do a production line and have a bit of a laugh together. It’s great to have someone to talk to other than the cat and my 19 year old daughter who is on the computer all the time anyway. Being here is a lot better than the dole and the experience should help me to get another job. I prefer to keep myself busy and I’d try any job that comes up – even nightshift. I’m a bit of a night owl so that wouldn’t bother me at all. The only downside is that I can’t drive because of health problems so that rules out quite a few warehousing jobs.

I’m 60 years old but coming here has definitely given me a new lease of life. It’s certainly better than just sitting watching Jeremy Kyle!