A Beautiful Friendship In An-UnLikely Setting

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a short-story based on my own personal experiences of attending a work-programme for the unemployed in my local community, where I developed a wonderful and special friendship between three people who have changed my life and they mean so much to me I wanted to write a story about it all and dedicate to them too.

Submitted: June 28, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 28, 2012



A Beautiful Friendship
In An-Unlikely Setting

It was a Cold, Wintry November day when I started the Soar-Work Programme. I felt quite nervous as I set off to the bus stop, I didn't want to be late so I set off in plenty of time to get there. When I arrived the atmosphere of the place felt really cold and as if there were a thick, black mist of cloud hovering over the place, it wasn't very welcoming. We walked into the room and I remember feeling quite uncomfortable just being in the room, as you could sense that no-one really wanted to be there.

We were each sat at a computer, but  received no explanation of what we were supposed to be doing,  and this created a rather negative and dismal environment which did nothing for anyone’s self-esteem or confidence in gaining employment and the hours dragged on rather slow as it would when you repeatedly checking your watch every half an hour. You just had to go with the flow, which at the time wasn't flowing very well,  as there were clearly a lack of communication and understanding which did not encourage interaction between the group. We just had to stumble through as though we knew what we were doing and act as though we were enjoying it even though we knew that nobody was. This made me want to find a job fast, as the hours dragged along, while I was sat there looking on the jobcentre website my mind was wondering off as I were thinking of my friend Christine who's baby were three weeks overdue and could come at anytime, so that helped  take my mind off where I was, hoping that it would pass more quickly.

After two weeks of being at Soar I had an interview for a job, so I was quite hopeful and this made me feel slightly better as I thought I could perhaps escape from this gloomy place. The actual interview were nothing like I expected but I felt that it wasn't the type of job that I really wanted to do,  it were for a call centre of some kind and I didn't feel right being there so nothing came from that.  During this time I had began saying a few words to one of the women there her name was Louisa, this helped me feel abit more comfortable although I still didn't want to be there it did give me some hope knowing there were someone else  there with me and I found out she felt the same about attending the work-programme.

By the middle of December I was getting used to going but it definatly still felt like a chore just being there, but there were a change in the staff as a few weeks previous, one of the staff left quite suddenly, it was abit unexpected to us and so they had a new member of staff Paul who joined the Job club room and Lisa who were there before she were often in and out of the room doing other jobs,  so this left us with Paul mostly in the room, he was helpful and  friendly we became he encouraged interaction and communication in order  to help each other out and this helped break the ice.

Then came the two week Christmas holiday, so Louisa and myself could breathe a sigh of relief knowing that we had two long weeks off from attending this place they call a work-programme! Not making it any easier for us they said that in the new year there were be some group changes. After the job search session finished that day myself and Louisa had a word with Paul and Julie our advisor to ask if when they make the group changes, if we could stay together as we had made friends and getting separated at this early stage would affect our progress. We said our piece and hoped that they would take into consideration how we feel about the impending changes.
All we could do was await the new year and see how things turned out from there, just before the Christmas holiday that day I had applied for a job at an opticians that I saw advertised and then as we were due back to go into Soar  in January, I had a call from the opticians saying they'd like to arrange an interview. That was a nice surprise for me as I never expected that and being so early on in the new year, so I anxiously anticipated  the interview , once again that gave me a glimmer of hope when we went back to Soar on Monday9thJanuary and my interview were for the following Wednesday11thJanuary.

I went into Soar in a reasonably good mood that day as I was able to tell Paul about my interview and so it gave us some encouragement that there are still people out there who want to employ us. I enjoyed the day at Soar today, feeling abit more comfortable and the group change improved and me and Louisa were getting better acquainted with one-another so that really helped having a friend there. Wednesday came round quite quickly and before I knew it my interview had been and gone, so I wasn't sure of the response I'd get but they had told me that so many had applied so there were a lot of interest, I just took my chances although they did inform me it could take up to six weeks to hear anything as there were so many who had applied. Once again despondent thoughts became many  in my head, as I never heard anything back after the six weeks, I felt as though something was keeping me at Soar, I later discovered what it was...

By the end of January we had another new member of staff start at Soar as Lisa seemed to be doing other jobs  and  was not in the job club room, that left  Julie and Paul there for most of the time although Julie had alot of  other work to do as she did more than one role, she was very dedicated to her work and helping us in gaining employment so they obviously needed extra support. I remember that Monday when we went into Soar I always walked in with Louisa once I'd got to know her abit better as it helped me feel more at ease walking in with someone else.

 We heard  the previous week that  Michelle was starting, we thought who's Michelle? When she started and it was her first day  we didn't say much to her straight away, as we had already had a few staff changes and it was abit unsettling getting used to yet another new member of staff, as I got on with my job search me and Louisa noticed that Michelle wasn't from Sheffield as we could tell by her accent. We thought maybe she is American, but we found out that she was Canadian which was interesting and intriguing, wondering how she ended up living in Sheffield. I tried saying a few words to her asking her how her job was going and at the end of the session we
chatted to Paul and Michelle about how we felt about how things were going, helping our views to be heard and it definatly helped us feel better.

After a few short weeks of Michelle starting at Soar, Julie had gone off sick and would be off for some time, poor Michelle must have felt that she had got thrown in at the deep end as she was now in the job club room at all times. Paul had to improvise as he had to step into Julies shoes although not literally don't think they would have suited him! Zoey  who was part of the admin team also adjusted her schedule to assist the staff in that department to help fill their needs trying to keep everyone happy.
At the same time as Julie were off sick, I received a letter about a two week course that we had been asked to attend, I was abit nervous about it as I didn't know who would be there, so on the first day of the Course I got to  the Learning Zone and when I walked in the room I recognised Angela from Soar although I didn't know her at that point but knew who she was, that put me at ease seeing a friendly face, and then later on Louisa came  so I already felt at home by this time.
I think this course  brought myself, Louisa and Angela closer together as we all got on and our personalities  seemed to blend so well. It was quite nice really to have made some friends as it definatly helped us all to progress and it made me feel like a weight had been lifted as I now had someone there going through the same experience and it made me feel better, as we could now help each other through the journey. We had built up a special-kind of friendship despite being different ages, with different backgrounds that didn't matter to us.

After the course had finished Angela started coming back to Soar in the afternoons, and once we had got to know Michelle a little better it started to become more enjoyable and actually quite fun. It definatly created a more positive atmosphere as Michelle  brought Laughter and Sunshine to our Monday afternoons, even when it was raining outside we always had  warmth and sunshine inside with Michelle’s Cheery and optimistic personality.
 It was a real turn around from how it used to be at the beginning when there were no laughing or talking and  I remember at times it made me feel like I was at a crematorium it was that depressing silence that made me feel that way, but since Michelle started she changed all of that, and also she came at just the right time as when Julie were off sick Michelle became a very valuable and much needed member of the team.

We were all getting along so well at Soar together and Zoey regularly came in the job club room to see how we all were getting on and I think the staff noticed how we
 had developed this distinct  and unique friendship and how it lifted their mood seeing us all enjoying ourselves it had a knock on effect even on the staff. In turn the staff's helpful and supportive nature also encouraged us and contributed to the warm and friendly relationship we had, we definatly felt that the staff had become our friends rather than being above themselves, thinking they are better than us as other advisors from various work programmes  have been in the past.

In the short-time  Michelle had been there had already left a lasting impression upon my young and inquisitive mind as she gave me inspiration to try harder and do my very best that I could do, by her willingness to give her time and energy to help me really  made a difference to my attitude. It gave me confidence knowing there were still some nice people left on these work-programmes who genuinely care and want to help and this made all the difference. I realised that this was the thing that were keeping me at Soar, it was the Beautiful friendship we had developed between us all that kept me at Soar I loved every minute of my time at Soar since this Special Friendship grew stronger each passing week.

By the end of March though we had a rather Sad Announcement from the work-programme that the staff were getting made redundant, meaning that the work-programme could not continue. This had devastating effects on all involved the staff were equally as devastated as us who attended.
Once I'd heard that announcement that day, I came home and I could hardly eat my tea as I just felt as though someone had stabbed me in the heart I felt so cut up, it was quite overwhelming and I could not come to terms with the news. Obviously this affected all of us so we were all very upset and sad, this left a melancholy feeling amongst myself, Louisa, Angela and Michelle as well as the other members of staff.
Despite the distressing situation that we now found ourselves in we were determined that this would not affect the beautiful friendship that we had formed, we would continue to let it grow and flourish  by keeping in touch and making arrangements to meet up for a laugh and a giggle, we had already exchanged email addresses and phone numbers earlier in the year so this would make it easy to stay in contact.

We tried to stay positive even if we felt down in the dumps inside, we didn't reflect that too much as we didn't want to remind each other of the situation. We enjoyed the last few job search sessions that still remained and they had also organised a Drop in Session at the end of the final week bit like a leaving/Farewell Do, and Michelle were asked to bake her delicious chocolate cake. I went to that myself, Louisa and Angela tried their best to get there but due to unforeseen circumstances didn't allow them to go.
It was a nice way to spend the last time together but I didn't want to leave, but I didn't say goodbye rather I said see you later, as I knew myself and Michelle along with the rest of us were keeping in touch.




Chapter Two

New Beginnings

It felt strange for awhile not going into Soar on a Monday afternoon, I didn't quite know what to do with myself on these empty solitary afternoons, it felt quite surreal and evoked some emotion as I sat thinking of the whole situation was abit of a world wind experience, considering it all happened so fast we didn't get time to stop and breathe!
After a few weeks I got my dreaded letter from my new work-programme Zest! I wasn't happy about this as it was further to travel. The letter gave me the date of my first appointment which wasn't till June so I was quite surprised that I had about six weeks off, but the good news was I found that Louisa was going to the same Work-Programme as myself, sadly though Angela had been referred to another work-programme.

I guess this was like entering a new chapter of my Life, A New Beginning or just a means to an end. It still hurt me to know that Soar had finished as we just had so many good times there and brings back many happy and joyful memories, I will always think of Soar and can't help but Smile knowing that was the making of a Beautiful Friendship between myself and an amazing bunch of people, they made me very happy to be in their company.

We continued our job search on individual levels I sent out a few more spec-letters after and got another interview but one of many that never provide any feed-back.
I was emailing Michelle, Angela and Louisa all on a regular basis as it helped bridge the gap while we are all apart. This helped me feel better just knowing that these people wanted to keep in touch and the fact that we were doing that meant alot to me as I had formed a real attachment with them and couldn't let them go.... although it was Michelle who originally suggested meeting up and so forth I was as keenly interested in getting together as often as possible.

A few weeks past and we did try arranging to meet but I wasn't too well at the time, so this meant re-arranging it, then the day came when we had planned to meet and Poor Michelle and Angela were not well  either so we put if off till the following week, and we finally got together at Angela's home myself, Angela and Michelle. It was the best time I'd had for awhile although Michelle had to attend an appointment for a job so she couldn't stay as long as we would have liked but it was still very enjoyable, all we seemed to do were just giggle and I still remember the day clear in my mind how hot and sunny it was, brought positive and happy thoughts and brightened us up. That was our first get together and then we did manage another that same week but a shortened one as we had to go back to Soar for an hour to complete a unit of work from our Course that we did that wasn't finished.
Michelle came into Soar that day to see us as we had told her when we were due to go even though she had her I.T Course she walked out to come and see us, but I'm guessing that she okayed this with her tutor, otherwise this shows how much we must mean if we are worth getting into trouble just to see us, that's true friendship for you folks.

Our Friendship now continues to grow and flourish, we are keeping in constant touch almost everyday we either email, text or write in one way or another form of communication we are determined to keep this beautiful Friendship we all share and it makes me feel truly blessed and I find it endearing to have met such dear and special people in my life, and I know I'll never have to feel alone in this world. I have even un-officially "adopted" Michelle and Angela and called them my "Aunties". I have two special Aunties now and Louisa too, who I will be seeing at Zest. We will all keep this Beautiful Friendship that we have formed one of the most unlikely settings,  for many years to come and prove that this is a Rare and Special kind of friendship and will never get neglected or abandoned and will continue till the end of time.....and forever.

Thank you Page

 I  want to dedicate this story to some amazing people who have  made such a difference to my Life and they are ,
 Michelle Perry-Brooker,Angela Nadin,&Louisa Liversige.
This is a tribute to you all as you all played your part in making my  time at Soar a pleasant and happy experience, and this is somethingthat I will never ever forget.

I wanted to share my story of Soar With you as it is something I’ve been wanting to do, it for me feels like it has been given Closure. Although the memories of our times at Soar will never drift away but the story makes the point that we have entered a new chapter of new beginnings in our lives and we will move on from those days, but Soar will be greatly missed and always remembered for another reason the reason being it is where we all met and became friends and developing this beautiful friendship that we now have between us, it is something truly special to me and I am thrilled that we are all keeping in contact as I love it all the more.
It helps to know that we can share our new experiences with one another and this gives me hope knowing that even though we are not at Soar anymore we still have each other and always will have.

This was most enjoyable for me to write this story based on our wonderful friendship and how we all got together, as I do feel that it is rare that you find a group of individuals who all jell and get on so well despite being different age groups, this has not affected our friendship if anything it draws us closer together, as I just see you all as three dear Aunties who I can turn to when I need some help or advice, it is great for me to know I have three amazing and Special Aunties and most of  all you are my friends.
This is my gift to you, it is my way of keeping the happy memories of Soar Alive and at the same time finalizing it all and helping us all to move on but never forgetting the place where we all met.

Thank you all for being my friends and for always being there and helping me out in so many ways, more than you all will ever know Hope you have enjoyed reading my short-story and may it bring back all those happy memories  back to your mind when you read it and Soar Will Live on  and always have a special place in our hearts and so our friendship will grow and deepen each passing day.

Thank you, You are the best ,
I  wish you All The Success for the future and Think of you all the time.



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