When life throws you a curve ball plans have to change, as Shereen O’Driscoll discovered when she became pregnant at 19-years-old. Shereen had to put thoughts of university on hold while she devoted her time and energy into bringing up her now eight-year-old son Theo, and seven-year-old Sienna. However, Shereen was still passionate about having a career and signed up for a West Midlands Ambulance Service apprenticeship through the Ladder for the Black Country scheme.
Shereen, 28, said: “I love being a mum but it meant putting my career on hold, as I didn’t have time for studying and gaining qualifications. It was hard to admit that I wouldn’t be able to go to university, but I still wanted to have an interesting career. I looked on the NHS jobs website and found out about the Ladder project. My qualifications could be done with Performance Through People while I worked. There was an apprenticeship with the Patient Transport Service, which doesn’t deal with emergencies, and I thought it sounded perfect.”
Shereen did her NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in healthcare support services with Performance Through People and said she was able to fit studying around her family. “My assessor at PTP was brilliant – I could email her anytime and she would be able to explain things to me. I really enjoy my job but I hurt my arm a few months ago and now I’m in the control room in Coventry. Once my arm is better I will go back out with the ambulances, as I miss it. However, it is a good experience being in the control room. People think it must be easy to be sat at the computer taking calls but it is hard work – it has opened my eyes to the stress they have to deal with.”
In 2016 Shereen, along with other Ladder apprentices, had the chance to go to St James’s Palace in London and meet the Duke of York, Prince Andrew. “It was an amazing experience,” said Shereen. “I love working with the NHS, and I’m proud to be part of the West Midlands Ambulance Service, which helps so many people every day. As an apprentice you don’t get a lot of money – but you do receive some fantastic recognition and it makes you feel good about what you are doing.”