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Sophie's story

Building skills and confidence to build a better life

Sofie joined Ingeus Berlin’s special programme for under 25 year olds in Autumn 2010. She had grown up in Berlin where she’d gone to school but had left with poor grades, after which moved with her boyfriend to the Netherlands in 2004. Whilst in the Netherlands she worked as a studio assistant and studied Dutch to improve her linguistic skills and went on to find temporary agency work in administration.

Sofie’s time in the Netherlands proved to be very difficult; she had few friends and her relationship with her boyfriend had soured. After separating from him, she returned to Berlin in September 2010. She had poor grades, no job, no home and no social network. Additionally, her German language skills had diminished after living in Holland for six years.

Sofie arrived in Ingeus offices’ at a very low ebb; she was physically and mentally exhausted and was also very reserved. Over time, the day-to-day contact with others in the under 25s programme helped Sofie to gain confidence and become more engaged, more accessible and more open. She started to make friends and began to take more pride in her appearance and smile more. Sofie said she enjoyed the positive atmosphere in the Ingeus offices and the individual attention she received from her advisor, Verena.

After about a month Sofie started to open up to Verena and spoke about her childhood and how it continued to impede her psychologically. She asked for advice and assistance and Verena was able to refer her to the professional help required to deal with some long-standing emotional issues. Ingeus also helped her to find somewhere to live and ensured all her official papers and documents were up-to-date following her extended period out of the country.

With the ongoing psychological support Sofie was receiving, she felt much more able to begin her job search in earnest. Sofie was keen to enter the commercial area as she had some experience in the Netherlands and she had always wanted to work in an office. With her advisor, Sofie created an attractive, quality job application.

She then went through some practice interviews, which were intensive. This is was because Sofie had not interviewed in Germany before and had to become accustomed to the techniques and to practice her language skills.

Sofie had some unsuccessful interviews but was eventually accepted for an apprenticeship as an office clerk in a small factory, where she was able to learn about business and office work on the job. She was also attending a special vocational school. Sofie put in a lot of hard work and tremendous dedication to her new roles and after the first six months she received glowing reviews and grades.

Sofie also began to meet new people and formed new friendships. She has enjoyed learning again; in particular she discovered a love of accounting. Sofie is still in regular contact with her advisor and the staff at Ingeus. She marvels at how much her life has changed since her first appointment; she is now in her own apartment, she has friends, she is training and she is working. Most importantly, she has hope for her future again.

Over time, the day-to-day contact with others in the under 25s programme helped Sofie to gain confidence and become more engaged, more accessible and more open.”