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Alison O'Brien, from retail to the NHS

It’s #InternationalWomensDay and we are celebrating Amlwch’s Alison O’Brien, after years of working in retail, she’s now loving her role in the NHS. Read Alison’s story, in her words:

I’ve always worked evenings and weekends because of the kids, I had Melissa when I was 21 so I’ve always had to just take any job to make ends meet really; shift work, bank holidays, Christmas - I’ve had to work it all. And then I thought ‘do you know what? I’ve had enough, I want to do something different’ but I wasn’t trained to do anything different other than retail.

So, my friend told me about Môn CF, and I thought they might be able to help me. At first, I thought they were only for people who were out of work, and then it changed and I was pleased. I went to an open day in Amlwch on a Monday because I had a week off work, I used that opportunity to go there. I couldn’t go to Amlwch every week, so they signed me up in Menai Bridge on a Wednesday, which was my day off, so I went there every week to see Una. She put me on the driving project, helped me get my theory test done and apply for my provisional and she suggested that I would be perfect for the NHS Step Into Work programme – so she geared me towards that really.

I thought the most I’d get was maybe a bank role or something, which I did, but then I got a full-time position doing Arrhythmia Service Support, so I book all the pacemaker clinics, people to come in for their echocardiograms, ECG monitoring and things like that – it’s amazing, I love it. It’s 9-5 Monday to Friday for the first time in my life, it’s amazing, I’ve never had weekends off before!

I thought ‘it’s time to do something for me’, now that the kids are older you know. Every day, I still think ‘I’m so lucky, did I actually make this happen?’. At one point I had to do both, I had to work in retail full-time and go and do 3 days a week on the bank in the hospital as well, which was heavy going. I was doing both for weeks, but it paid off in the end.

The first job I applied for when I came to Môn CF was another retail position, because I didn’t have the confidence to try for anything else, I didn’t think I could do anything else. But then when I went to the hospital and I was dealing with patients, it’s the same as dealing with customers. I didn’t think I had any IT knowledge, but because I’d been a supervisor, I had to do rotas and all sorts, so I found that I did have transferable skills which I didn’t think I had, until somebody else pointed it out to me. I’ve picked it up really quickly and then my confidence grew and then I went for the proper interview for the full-time role.

I didn’t think that it would happen, and like lots of other people they think they’re stuck in a certain job, until I went to Môn CF and they just opened my eyes really to the opportunities out there. I would recommend it to anybody really, just go and see what’s out there, don’t think that you’re stuck and that you can’t do other things, because you can, at my age as well.

You’ve got to try and make it happen yourself, you’ve got to put the effort in. I knew I needed to change my job, but I didn’t know where to go, and Môn CF showed me the way.


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