I joined the Fast Stream in October 2015. I grew up in Hackney, east London, and studied Economics and Politics at Sussex University. I considered a career in law but by the time I finished the Graduate Diploma in Law I was pregnant with my second child and put that idea behind me!
After graduating I earned less than £7000 per year. My household was heavily dependent on benefits and I am a carer for my chronically ill husband and our two children who have special needs. A lot of people at my school felt trapped by circumstance and I had thought that wouldn’t be me, but by now my confidence was so low and I felt like I had no prospects.
I decided to look for a more stable job and, thinking about what I really wanted to do, registered with Civil Service Jobs for entry level roles. Then an advert popped up for the HR Fast Stream. When I read what the scheme offered it sounded amazing. I didn’t think I would get through but figured the experience would be good practice.
I couldn’t quite believe it when I got to the assessment centre. I turned up thinking that they didn’t want people ‘like me’, yet three days later I was successful. I was excited and terrified. What if I actually don’t fit in? And how will I cope balancing family life and hospital appointments with a full-time stretching job and postgraduate study?
I was delighted with my first placement – HR Business Partner to Universal Credit in DWP. In my first week I was asked by my line manager and the HR Director if I knew anything about UC. Why, I knew quite a bit, having researched it extensively as a claimant. I nervously told them the truth and imagine my surprise when they beamed at me, pleased to have someone in their team who understands first hand our work for the citizen.
I started as an assistant HRBP and over the course of my first year moved up to become the HRBP to the UC Implementation and Delivery directorate. I directly partner the Director and her four Deputy Directors and sit at Senior Leadership Team meetings as well as critical UC Programme meetings. The level of responsibility I have been given, and the support to develop and grow into these roles, has been incredible. I am also well supported to balance my caring commitments with work and I honestly can’t imagine being able to do and have all of this anywhere else.
One highlight that particularly stands out is creating the Fast Stream Opportunity Network with 3 other Fast Streamers, a network that champions social mobility and inclusion. The level of support we have received has been amazing – we have over 180 members now, and Chief Executive of the Civil Service, John Manzoni, spoke at our launch. I even got to speak at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility about access into the Civil Service. I am so glad I applied to the scheme and look forward to my next placement.