Laraine’s journey with TEN
Laraine McLoskey joined TEN on a work placement in 1999 and is now Head of Operations
Like so many people who come through the doors at TEN, I found myself out of work. After years of steady employment it came as a complete shock to the system. A short spell at the Job Centre led to a work placement at TEN and 18 years later I am still here – no doubt viewed as part of the furniture!
I started on reception and in those days, the organisation was a lot smaller than it is now, with only four members of staff. The offices were in two tiny rooms of a run-down building and there were no big contracts to provide funding. It was run as a voluntary service where anybody could come through the doors for help towards employment.
We didn’t have much but we had passion and knew we had the ability to grow and reach out to more people. Fast forward 6 years and with a lot of blood, sweat, tears and laughter, we located to bigger premises on what was then a busy Fowler Street.
TEN wasn’t the only one going places, gaining confidence in my abilities and with the support of my peers, I decided it was time to gain qualifications in IT in order to further my career.
My next step at TEN was to become an advisor. This was a role I really thrived in, being hands on and knowing that I was helping to change people’s lives really inspired me. My period of unemployment all those years back meant I knew that with the right guidance, it’s totally possible to change someone’s life for the better. If I could do it, anybody could.
2007 will always stand out as a memorable year for me. It was the year I rose to management at TEN and completed a degree. I chose to do my degree, not to further my career, but to prove to myself that I had the ability. Despite being one of the hardest years of my life, (anyone who has taken on a degree at the same time as having a full time job will know how much I questioned my sanity as I sat up at midnight drinking endless cups of coffee and staring at a computer screen) I made it to graduation day and celebrated with the best night sleep of my life!
However, as we all know, with incredible highs come crushing lows and in 2009, whilst waiting for funding From The Big Lottery to come through, myself and the team were told the devastating news that we were being made redundant. Like all charities, we face a constant battle to find financial support and we had reached the point where there was simply no more money left in the pot.
To say we were devastated is to say the least. At this point I had given ten years to the charity and to walk away would have been a monumental blow. I couldn’t do it.
Myself and a few other members of staff decided that we would stay on a voluntary basis to continue our efforts to save TEN. We knew that if we received the funding from The Big Lottery the charity would be given a new lease of life, we just had to cling on for those few months. We struggled and made huge financial sacrifices but that is what you do when you believe in what you are working towards.
Thankfully our prayers were answered and in January the following year we found out that we had secured The Big Lottery funding and those of us who had stayed were officially reinstated. The joy and relief we all felt is impossible to put in to words and it just shows what team work can achieve. It’s amazing how you can go from such a low point to an incredible high in such a short space of time.
Today, I am Head of Operations at TEN, something I would never of imagined possible when I first walked through the doors. My role involves overseeing everything that goes on at TEN, from managing all the projects, implementing quality standards through to thorny HR issues. No day is the same at TEN!
The charity is currently in a strong place and there are some exciting developments on the horizon. As long as there are people who need our support, our doors will always be open.