“My name is Anna and I was born in Krakow, Poland.
In 2006 I was offered employment in a busy clothing warehouse in Newtownards so I decided to move to Northern Ireland.
Unfortunately, after a bad experience in my workplace, I was hospitalised and, with no family here and English as a second language, life for me was not good and I was feeling lonely and isolated.
I was referred to AMH New Horizons in 2010 and since then I have engaged in all sorts of courses, completing the following:
- CCEA Floristry Level 1,2 & 3
- CCEA Window Display & VM Level 2
- CCEA Textiles Level 1
- NVQ Level 2 Retail Skills
- Cook It
- OCN Employment Skills & CV Building
Outside New Horizons I have completed:
- City & Guilds level 2 Diploma in Floristry, CAFRE, Antrim
- City & Guilds English Level 2 Certificate in ESOL, SERC, Bangor
My favourite course was floristry. Although I had never done it before I found it relaxing and therapeutic. During my courses I developed a passion and interest in flowers. My tutor Linda told me that I had a natural creative flair and that I would be given the opportunity to complete a Level 3.
At this time I was the first person to complete a Level 3, so it was challenging and it meant working on my own. As part of this course I had to design a floral arrangement for an exhibition at Ards Town Hall, which was being opened by the Mayor.
The title of my arrangement was: “New beginning… the other side of the rainbow.”
This has a very special meaning to me. The rainbow represents New Horizons. Each flower symbolises a range of courses such as floristry, tiffany glass, art, IT, retail, catering etc. The rainbow is the footpath which all of us are walking on, during our recovery.
“The other side of the rainbow,” refers to the time when we leave New Horizons – the new beginning for us all.
I completed my Level 3 and the CCEA moderator commented that my work was of such a high standard, that I should consider continuing floristry to a higher level. So I did and went to CAFRE in Antrim to complete a 2 year Diploma in floristry. In June 2014 I received my Diploma with Distinction.
It was very hard work and involved a lot of travelling not only to college but my placement at Charlotte’s Web in Newcastle.
Without the on-going support from New Horizons during this time it would have been very difficult for me to complete this course. I was also completing an NVQ in Retail Skills and a Window Display & Visual Merchandising Course in New Horizons at the same time.
Both these courses helped me learn basic skills such as dealing with customers and creating displays which were very beneficial in giving me added knowledge for my diploma course and were also very useful in reality, as I have created a window displays for different occasions in my placement which were very much appreciated by the owner, Diane and admired by customers.
I will be very sad to leave New Horizons. During my 4 years here I have learnt so many new skills, been given opportunities I would never have had, met some good friends, my confidence has improved and best of all… I am following the new beginning path where I hope I can achieve my dream of becoming a florist and having my own business.
Perhaps, one day I will give a placement to a clients from New Horizons and encourage them the same way as New Horizons have encouraged me to fulfil my full potential.
I also have to thank New Horizons for allowing me to meet my Italian husband! As I walked along the street each week with my flower arrangements he always commented on how lovely they were.
This summer, we got married in Italy and I was able to make all my own wedding flowers!
Thank you New Horizons, especially my ‘Angel’ key worker Linda, for my new beginning…
… and they lived happily ever after.”