BY MADELEINE WEAVER – COMMUNICATIONS & POLICY OFFICER
Melody, Power up! participant and graduate shares how the programme supported during the first lockdown.
Lockdown was a challenging time for everybody. Read below to hear about Melody’s experiences over the past six months, and the support she has received from Leap through the Power Up! Programme.
Before lockdown, I was working 3 days a week. I was keeping busy and had a good routine. But soon after lockdown hit, I was put on furlough and then I was spending all of my time at home. I wasn’t having much contact with anyone outside of my family, and I struggled with this. With all this time to stop and think, things that had been buried beneath the surface began to catch up with me. I realised that I needed some additional support from the outside.
Although I have been involved with Leap for a while through my role as a young ambassador and through sessions with Aaliyah, Leap’s Progression Routes worker, my engagement had dropped in 2020. The pandemic gave me the push that I needed to be proactive and to make positive change in my life.
Aaliyah encouraged me to reach out to Kianu, who was looking for young women to take part in the Power Up! Programme. I found out that the programme was being delivered through 1:1 sessions via Zoom, which I was unsure about at first. I convinced myself to take the chance, because I really felt that I needed help processing my thoughts, and the space to express myself. Actually, I had needed this kind of support for the longest time, but for lots of reasons I hadn’t been able to take it.
The Power Up! course is delivered over 8 weeks, with weekly sessions focusing on everything from wellbeing, building self-esteem, career planning, and generally being a woman in 2020. When I first joined back in July, I received a Power Up! starter pack in the post full of gifts and resources. I haven’t had anything like that in a long time – it was so unexpected and it made me feel so special.
“POWER UP! WAS AN EXTREMELY POSITIVE EXPERIENCE FOR ME. THE SESSIONS TAUGHT ME THAT I CAN BE MORE OPEN WITH PEOPLE. THEY HELPED ME TO BE AWARE OF MY OWN THOUGHT PROCESS, AND TO STAY POSITIVE ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT IS GOING ON AROUND ME, WHETHER PERSONALLY OR PROFESSIONALLY. IT HAS GIVEN ME TECHNIQUES TO GET AWAY FROM NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AND TURN THEM INTO OPPORTUNITIES.”
During the first few sessions, Kianu made me feel really comfortable – it felt like I was meeting a friend. Even though it was being delivered online, every session felt both personal and professional. She had a way of making it interesting, I didn’t even realise that I was doing the task for that session! Because of the safe space she created, I really opened up to Kianu about my feelings, my past experiences and what is going on in my life at the moment. This gave me so much comfort and helped to calm me down during the most difficult parts of lockdown. I have realised that it’s so much better to share what you are going through, rather than bottling things up.
What I liked most about the programme is that every week, Kianu would show me the notes of what I had shared in the previous session. It was eye-opening to reflect on my thought process, and to see how events in my past have affected me. I had the opportunity to really work through what is going on my head, giving me a sense of perspective but also helping me to think with much more clarity.
Another really helpful aspect of the programme was the practical support that I received. Kianu helped me to map out the next steps in my career path, looking at logistics around finding work and developing my CV. Our conversations gave me confidence in managing all of the responsibilities that come with being an adult. I reassessed the timing of some major events in my life, and realised that some things were happening too soon. With Kianu’s help, I have been able to re-prioritise. We have started making a plan for my future that is better for me and my needs.
I am about to take the next step in my life and it’s a big one. I am moving out of London to move in with my partner. I was really worried about leaving my life in London behind, and no longer being able to attend sessions at Leap. Now I know that Kianu is always just a phone call away, even if I can’t come into the office anymore. In that sense, I’m glad that lockdown happened, because I know that Leap can continue to support me.