60 Seconds With Katherine

We often speak to people who are worried about returning to work after a life-threatening illness or a life-changing injury, who are not sure what to expect and whether they will even be able to find a job that will suit them. To help answer a few questions we spoke to Katherine, who GPS Return recently helped go back to work.

Tell us about yourself

I've been off work since October 2017, when I lost my job after returning back to work after an operation for cancer.  I was diagnosed a second time with another cancer and had another operation and follow up treatment for a month.

Why did you decide to return to work when you did?

I needed routine back in my life and something to make me feel worthwhile.  I am also an active person and cannot just sit around the house doing nothing.

How did you find the experience?

A little daunting at first, as I didn't think anyone would employ me after my illness.  I was nervous at the interview.  I applied for two jobs and I was turned down for the first job, although the first job was not with GPS Return.

How have your priorities changed during your illness?

Life is short, do what you want, when you want.  Don't wait for things to happen, go and get them.  Enjoy every day and live life to the full as much as you can.

How straight forward was it to find the flexibility you needed?

I only wanted part time hours as I have a primary aged child.  There seem to be a lot of part time, school hours jobs around.

What does flexibility mean to you. Why is it so important?

I am a single parent with a disabled child, so I needed a job that I could work within school hours, also the shorter working hours enable me to recover from my illness without getting too tired.

Did you experience any push back from recruiters or potential managers?

I was turned down for the first job I applied for, which was through a local advert.

How did you find your job role?

I applied online.

What impact has working flexibly had on your team/company?

If I'm needed to work more hours, especially if asked in advance it's not a problem and if I need to change my hours for something in particular the company is very accommodating, so that's a great help on both sides.

Have you changed the way you work since returning?

No.

How has your family coped with you returning to work?

No problems.

How do you balance work with your family?

Easily.  I have time to drop my child at school and then finish in time to collect him, so no problems with balancing that.

What has been the biggest challenge with going back?

None really.

What has most surprised you about going back?

How accepting the employer is about letting me have time off for follow up hospital appointments and for employing me, knowing that I have had cancer.

Everyone at my workplace is so nice and they make me feel so at home.

What advice do you have for others?

Find a good agent, such as GPS Return.  If you fancy a job, don't be afraid to apply for it.  If you have the right experience, you have as much of a chance of being successful as the next person.  You just need to remember we are all humans, no one is better than anyone else.