A single mother of four from Rawtenstall has started her first job at the age of 29 after losing everything in a house fire.
As a full-time mum to twin boys aged 10 and two girls aged 7 and 3, Ricki Love had never worked but when her uninsured house and all her belongings went up in flames, she desperately needed to find work to get back on her feet. Shortly after moving into a housing association property, Ricki received a text from her new landlord, Together Housing Group, inviting her to apply for a training course funded by its charitable arm, Newground Together.
Now she has secured a job as a Production and Warehouse Operator with colour manufacturer Saville Whittle after completing the course, which has been shortlisted for Excellence in Employment and Training at the TPAS (Tenant Participation Advisory Service) Awards.
She said: “I’ve always loved driving and looked into becoming a HGV driver but it would take me away for days at a time so I couldn’t do it with four kids. When I got a text message from Together Housing about the forklift truck training course, although it was something I’d never considered, it sounded exactly like the kind of thing I wanted to do.”
Just over a month after completing the course, Ricki got a four-week unpaid placement at Saville Whittle. Her bosses were so impressed they gave her a permanent paid position.
She said: “My mentor at Newground, Joe was very helpful and went above and beyond. With no relevant work experience, he encouraged me to put life experience on my CV, for example the fact I have been a carer for my dad for the last five years and as such have done a lot of driving to get his shopping and taking him to hospital appointments.
“Starting work within five weeks of complaining the course was a lot faster than I ever thought could happen.
“I love the diversity of my job, no two days are ever the same. I’ve made some good friends, I’m always learning and growing in confidence each week.”
Ian Skelly, Ricki’s Counterbalance trainer from FTW Training, said: “Ricky was not only the best female student I’ve ever had but the best student full stop.
“Women tend to make better students because they pay more attention and tend to listen to and follow instructions better than men who have a habit of thinking they know best and jump straight in.”
Lenny Higson, Ricki’s Reach Licence trainer, added: “It comes as no surprise that our star pupil was snapped up by an employer straight away and we wish her all the best in her new role.
“Women can greatly improve the industry with safe driving practices so it’s great to see an uptake in women wanting to drive a forklift.”
Ricki said: “I met some great people on the course. It made me feel like nothing was impossible. The trainer was great and made sure everyone could keep up and understand.
“I was proud of myself with being the only girl on the course. I was worried that everybody would be better than me but I proved to myself that I can be great at anything I want to do. I want to be a good role model for my girls and I hope they can look up to me and know that they can do anything they set their minds to.
“The instructor warned me that sometimes men don’t like to see women on the course but assured me that he wouldn’t tolerate any sexism. That put me at ease but the guys on the course were really nice anyway and I was never made to feel out of place.”
Inspired by Ricki’s success, Newground Together have now funded another Fork Lift Truck course, this time aimed specifically at single woman.
Encouraging others to follow in her footsteps, she said: “It is one of the best experiences I have ever had. There is lots of help all the way through, even once you’ve completed the course.”
The course starts on (date) and lasts for (how many?) weeks. The course will comprise classroom training at (Shadsworth Hub?) then a practical lesson and test at FTW Training’s warehouse in Skelmersdale. The course will take place over child-friendly hours (9.30am – 2.30pm) but Newground Together will also fund childcare for children under school age.
To sign up, contact … or come along to Old Town Hall Rawtenstall on 3 June.