She’s worked in factories, warehouses, and pubs, but having changed career via an apprenticeship as a mature student, Sally Evans loves her current job so much she has a typed slogan stuck across her PC saying so.
Now she is to be the poster ‘girl’ in training provider Performance Through People’s (PTP) latest publication celebrating her achievements.
Single mother Sally, 48, worked at Walsall Manor Hospital’s branch of Spar for five years. But with her two sons now adults and a desire to work full-time, Sally found retail wasn’t for her, so enrolled on Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s apprenticeship scheme in partnership with PTP.
“A couple of friends had got jobs in different departments here and I thought I’d give it a try,” said Sally, who started her year-long apprenticeship in August 2020. “I spotted the scheme, and after reading the job description, realised it was very similar to what I did in my job.
“Starting the apprenticeship at my age meant I didn’t have to jump down a lot money-wise. I needed something I could sink my teeth in to, to keep me going for the rest of my working days.
“I had the interview over Teams and was absolutely flabbergasted to be told I’d got the job. I joined PTP who did my apprenticeship, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
“I had a set of assignments and practical assessments and gained distinctions across the board.”
Not even misplacing her GCSE certificates held her back, as she re-sat and passed her English and Maths exams. Following that, she completed a practical assessment, and supported the stores in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) prior to switching to Theatres, replacing a lady who had retired.
In a fast-paced environment, her job is to source specialist pieces of equipment for the surgeons to use and ensure that apparatus is sterile and arrives to theatre on time, with everything the surgeon will need.
Once it’s been used, she sends it to the Trust’s hospital sterilisation and decontamination unit (HSDU) and ensures it returns.
“I took over the Theatres equipment side and I do a lot of delivering, stock checks and ordering of equipment, but I also do bits for stores and ICU too,” added Sally, whose sons are 26 and 19.
“I come in at 8am and some days I look at the clock and it is about 3.20pm and I think I’ve only been here an hour!
“I’m also a port of call when anything goes wrong with any machinery or anything needs checking, but I have an amazing team who are so supportive – and I’ve never been so happy.”
So how does she feel about being PTP’s poster girl and why Sally? “Scary!” she answers. “PTP have a leaflet promoting all their good stories and mine is particularly interesting to them because they don’t get a lot of older people doing apprenticeships.
“Unfortunately, apprenticeships have got that stigma – people often think ‘I’m too old, why would I do that?’
“People might think ‘better the devil you know’ and they don’t want to step outside their comfort zone, but I decided to swap retail for theatres and don’t regret it one bit.
“I get home and tell my family ‘I really love my job – you’ll never guess what I’ve done today!’”
Often, a change in personal circumstances can lead to a period of reflection and re-evaluation, and there is also a more serious reason why Sally made the change.
“Ever since I was a young child, I felt I was programmed to help people,” added Sally, of Goscote, Walsall. “I lost some family members to cancer and the first time it happened, I felt a bit useless, the second time I realised I could help and the third time I was there and helped loads, which made me feel good. So being able to do this, it’s like an extension of that and I love it.”
Given how well she has taken to her new career, it’s perhaps not surprising Sally recommends anyone of more mature age thinking of changing their career via the apprenticeship route to take the plunge.
“Totally go for it!” she says. “You can always go back to what you did before if you need to. It’s brilliant – I’m probably slightly infuriating with how happy and jolly I am all the time!”
Colleague and Stores Clerk, Paul Berry said: “She’s a huge asset and has done really well. There’s always concern when somebody new comes along, but Sally has fit right in and is very helpful. Not only does she do her own job, but she helps us do ours as well, which is very much appreciated.”
If anyone would like any information about apprenticeships with PTP, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured, from left: Sally Evans and colleagues Steve Moore, Paul Berry and Vicki Evetts.