Steve Hurley, Gingerbread and The Pen and Paper


For the past twelve weeks we have had the pleasure of having Steve Hurley working at Pen & Paper. Steve was placed here by a company called Gingerbread.

Gingerbread is a government funded national charity organisation that aims to get single parents back into work. Since its inception at the end of World War I, Gingerbread has provided training and work placements to numerous single parents who have not had the opportunity to work whilst caring for their children. Supported by its patron, J K Rowling, Gingerbread aims to match participants with jobs suitable to their experience, character and geographical location.

Steve, who was previously a Cardiff Bus driver, was forced to give up work in order to care for his son, Samuel, who is now seven. Steve was in fact the first male candidate for Gingerbread in South Wales and was accepted onto the Intermediate Labour Market scheme for his confidence and willing to get back to work.

Here I ask Steve about his experience with Gingerbread and work experience at The Pen & Paper Stationery Company, Royal Arcade Cardiff.

Q: Hi Steve. How have you enjoyed working at The Pen and Paper for the past twelve weeks?

S: I have completely enjoyed every minute. I am very grateful for the opportunity and it has made me very excited about getting back to working life.

Q: What has been your favourite part about working at The Pen and Paper?

S: Definitely the people. My colleagues have been so patient and helpful. It has been difficult getting to grips with the till and prices of products but everyone has helped me a lot. I was also given the job of stock room organisation which kept me really busy and helped with my product knowledge. I like to be busy so that job was fun. I have been shown all aspects of the business and feel like I have been included in everything, which is great for me as I want to be able to show future employers that I have knowledge of retail procedures.

Q: Has there been anything you have disliked about working here?

S: Not really. I was worried about getting prices wrong and was not sure about using the till but everyone has helped me which has been really nice. I was a bit worried about how I was going to be confidence wise with the public and colleagues, as working with Cardiff Bus I did not have a great deal of that interaction. I feel my confidence has increased dramatically through working at The Pen and Paper.

Q: You have had to work mainly alongside young girls, has this been at all challenging? Were you apprehensive about this beforehand?

S: No, I think I tend to get on with most people so it did not worry me. I have really enjoyed getting to know the girls and they have been so helpful and lovely. Everyone helps everyone so it has not been challenging to work with a bunch of girls!

Q: How has your experience at The Pen and Paper influenced other aspects of your life?

S: For one, my confidence has soared. I feel I also have a greater understanding of working life, especially as retail changes so much. The experience was greatly needed as I now feel able to confidently find work and put into practice what I have learnt in the past six weeks. I had not previously worked in retail but the experience has definitely made me want to progress further into retail. I like to keep busy so it has made me realise the type of jobs I want to apply for. I am a lot happier now that I have been in work, I feel busy and I am grateful for the adult interaction!


Q: What would you like to happen after you leave the Pen and Paper?

S: Hopefully I will be able to find a job quickly. I like being busy and to go back to doing nothing would be upsetting. I like working and if I cannot find a paid job I would definitely look into volunteer work so that I can keep busy, not have a gap in between jobs and show potential employers my willingness to work.

Q: Would you recommend Gingerbread to single parents looking for help to get back to work?

S: Yes I would definitely recommend Gingerbread. They have been so helpful. I have been on training courses that have provided me with so much information, I feel very ready to get back to work. Gingerbread have been there for me the entire six weeks, helping me looking for jobs, helping me apply and providing a reference and any further help I have needed. I now feel that through Gingerbread I have the best chance to get back to paid employment. I have enjoyed every minute of working at The Pen and Paper and I am going to miss it a lot! I am very grateful for the opportunity Gingerbread and The Pen and Paper has given me and I am looking forward to getting back to work!

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