Employment

I always loved translating for my family. Big Issue Recruit helped me land my 'dream job'

When former Big Issue vendor Leventica was younger, she dreamed about being a translator. Big Issue Recruit helped her land a dream job

When former Big Issue vendor Leventica Paun was younger, she dreamed about being a translator.

“I’ve always translated in my Roma community and for my family,” she explains. “It was sort of a hobby.”

Paun had to drop out of school in year 11 to help care for her mum, who requires various mental health supports. But years later, part of her dream has “come true.” Now 25, she works as a Frontline Support Assistant with the Big Issue, providing guidance and training to our Roma-speaking vendors.

“I am so happy… someone should pinch me and make me come back to normal,” she says. “It has been a very big thing for me, it has changed my life.”

Paun moved to the UK with her parents when she was just eight months old, fleeing racism against the Roma community in Europe. As the little girl grew up, she had to start caring for her mum, a responsibility that ultimately took her out of school.

“I dropped off [from schooling] because I wanted to support her, she suffers from some mental health issues,” she recalls. “It was always me in charge of my mum because I know everything about her, so it’s always been me at the hospitals and appointments, I understand her.”

Alongside her caring responsibilities, Paun has held a variety of jobs, working on a casual basis for Pizza Hut and Amazon. She sold The Big Issue for a while at 18, and again a few years later. But she wanted to find something that “suited her better”.

How can Big Issue Recruit help people?

Helping people overcome barriers to employment is the mission statement of Big Issue Recruit. Nearing its one-year anniversary, BIR has supported more than 100 people in their job search – including Paun.

The BIR team helped Paun workshop her CV, job application technique and interview skills. Earlier this year, they supported her to successfully apply for the role with Big Issue frontline.

Paun’s been in the role since September – and couldn’t be happier. She helps Roma vendors access local services, visiting pitches and attending community meetings.

“The best part is I know I’m working with people who really care about me, who want to get the best out of me every single day,” she says.

“I have had some tough periods of my life. But when I’m at work, I stop overthinking everything, and concentrate on the things I have to do. I’m building a timetable and a life for myself.’

Paun is also back in education. She has just finished her foundation year in Business and Tourism and is getting ready to start her BA in January. One day, she wants to own her own small business. “A retail shop, something to do with clothes, I love fashion and trends,” she says.

But for now, Paun is very happy at the Big Issue. “When I’m at work, I can focus on helping others, helping the people I work with.,” she says. “That’s the best part.”

Big Issue Recruit is a specialist recruitment service, dedicated to supporting people who face barriers to joining the workforce into sustainable employment. It is a person-centred service and free to candidates, supporting individuals pre-, during and post-employment.

On signing up, candidates are partnered with a personal job coach to understand their needs and goals, build confidence, skills and resilience and coach them through the selection process, to secure the roles that are suitable for them – meaning that employers can find the right candidate who is more likely to stay in the position for longer.

Job coaches work with candidates post placement, to establish a good relationship with their new employer and support them to thrive in their new role.

Nearing its one-year anniversary, Big Issue Recruit is well on course in its mission to bring people from a more diverse range of backgrounds into the job market. Big Issue Recruit has supported 109 candidates in their job search, put 80 jobseekers forward for interviews, and enabled 43 people to secure positive employment.

To find out how Big Issue Recruit could help you into employment, or help your business to take a more inclusive approach to recruitment, click here.

Support our vendors this winter and beyond

If you can't visit your local vendor on a regular basis, then the next best way to support them is with a subscription to the Big Issue. As a social enterprise, we invest every penny we make back into the organisation. That means that with every subscription, we are supporting people in poverty to get back on their own two feet.
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