‘Nicky’s’ story is written in her own words.
I started to struggle at school from about year 4. The teachers did not seem to notice and, as I was very shy, I just put myself at the back and prayed ‘please don’t let them ask me anything’. I felt like a failure and as I grew older my confidence got less. I was scared to be around people. I would shake and I suppose it would now be called anxiety or a panic attack. My mum was educated but now I think that perhaps my dad could not read.
I left school at 16 and went to live with my sister and started work as a hairdresser. I had wanted to do nursing but there was no money to do the course – my dream was shattered!
Later, I came to live in the UK and stayed with some family. I carried on hairdressing and attended college. The practical work was easy, but the college work was difficult. I managed somehow to hide my problem with reading really well and I qualified.
By this time I had started a family and I needed work that was flexible, so I left hairdressing and worked as a waitress. I was not confident to take orders and so I worked in the back. I then moved into care work – working nights so that it worked around the children. From there I moved into working with people with various mental health issues which is where I work now.
I decided to take the plunge and try to improve my reading and I found Read Easy. I was very nervous when I made the first phone call as I did not know how they would take it. I was so happy when Read Easy said they could help me. At first when I met with my Reading Coach, I was a bit worried that someone I knew might see me but I decided to use it as a challenge. Sometimes I found the learning difficult and I struggled but, gradually, my confidence grew. I had never spoken to anyone about my problems with reading or my lack of confidence until I started work with my coaches. I have come a long way and my confidence in reading has grown.
During the process with Read Easy, I managed to read my first book. It was an interesting challenge and it was exciting to find out what happened next.
I know that I have the tools to progress and Read Easy and my coaches have done over and beyond to help me. My job is very challenging and emotionally demanding and switching off is hard. Sometimes I have to work late. I still get scared when I compare myself to my colleagues, but I know that I can use my new skills and my improved confidence to do my job and not hide.
I still get scared when I compare myself to my colleagues, but I know that I can use my new skills and my improved confidence to do my job and not hide.'Nicky' - Reader, Read Easy Birmingham SE & Solihull