From zero confidence to full-time employment: Success stories from the Skills for Life project

Rumi Razzak, from Cardiff, is a busy mum to three boys and her husband works full time. Last year she started thinking about returning to work but didn’t know where to start.


“Last year I felt quite helpless really,” says Rumi, who used to work as a Customer Sales Executive with British Gas. “I felt like I would never get a job because I don’t have any experience, I haven’t got anything to show on my CV like recent experience because I’ve been caring for my sons.”

Five months ago, Rumi joined Skills for Life, a project run by Oxfam Cymru and South Riverside Community Development Centre to enable women in Cardiff to gain the skills and confidence they need to progress into decent work. The Skills for Life project had a particular focus on Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women, and delivered a yearlong tailored and supportive programme of workshops, training, professional coaching and voluntary work placements.

“Since coming to the project, and some of the training that I’ve had, it’s helped me build my confidence,” says Rumi. “I feel now that I could get a job. I feel confident, I’ve got more to offer. I’m more experienced from the work placement, I definitely feel good about myself.”

And last month we received the wonderful news that following a three-month work-placement at National Museum Cardiff, Rumi has now been offered a paid position there.

“I am very excited about getting a job and I am looking forward to starting the training. I am most excited about the hours, as I can still fit the school run around the job,” said Rumi.

Rumi’s story is only one of the project’s many success stories. In total, Skills for Life  supported 54 women, and 14 have now secured employment. To hear more inspiring stories, watch this video:


Oxfam’s approach always takes as its starting point what a person can do, rather than what they cannot, and then building upon that to empower, inspire and support them to take control of their own economic situation, and the Skills for Life project was no exception. To learn more about the approach used in this project click here.

The Skills for Life project formed an integral part of Oxfam’s work in Wales and across the UK to address the causes of poverty. BME communities, and particularly women, are some of the most socially and economically disadvantaged groups and suffer disproportionate levels of poverty and social exclusion. Women are still paid less for the work they do – the gender pay gap means women earn 18% less than men for doing the same job – and of women working part-time in Wales, 40% are paid less than the Living Wage. Women often lack a voice in decision-making processes and are under-represented in leadership roles too – which is why Oxfam and our partners are working to make a change.

Skills for Life was a sister project of Oxfam’s wider Future Skills programme which is helping to tackle poverty across the UK utilising our network of charity shops. The project has been running successfully in Manchester over the last year with Cardiff, Glasgow, Oxford and London following suit. It also built on Oxfam Cymru’s previous projects Sanctuary in Wales  and Access to Enterprise as well as our three year Building Livelihoods project. You can read the full evaluation report for the project by clicking here.

For more information contact Oxfam Cymru: / 0300 200 1269.


The Skills for Life project supported the Communities for Work Programme and was funded by Welsh Government and the European Social Fund.