Zingara Filipe, Bus Driver, CT Plus
Three years ago, Zingara Filipe would look out of her window at the passing 153 bus and say to herself, ‘I wish I could do that’. But at that time, her dream felt very far away.
Zingara is originally from a Portuguese traveller family, arriving in theUKin her early 20s in 1990. Despite a wide range of life experience and the ability to speak five languages, she had never been to school and had no formal qualifications whatsoever. She was also raising her three daughters on her own.
‘I was stuck in the classic benefits trap for years,’ says Zingara ‘and as I started to look for work when my daughters were old enough, I would look at the blank page of my CV and wonder how I was going to get a job.’
She found out about the Women into the Bus Industry programme and was immediately intrigued. The difficulties of her disabled uncle when travelling on buses motivated her to become a bus driver so that she could provide a better service for older and disabled people.
When she first started on the programme, she was very nervous – this was her first ever experience of being in a classroom with other students. With the support of staff at the HCT Group Learning Centre, she soon grew in confidence. ‘I realised that if I worked hard I could really do this,’ Zingara recalls. ‘In addition to the training, the staff worked on my employability skills, showing me that my CV wasn’t a blank page and that I had a lot to offer.’
Soon, Zingara had passed her first ever exam – PCV theory – and with financial help from the EC1 New Deal for Communities Programme, she completed the full training needed to qualify as a bus driver, passing her test at the first attempt. Zingara is now working for HCT Group’s London red bus operations and has just taken her BTEC in road passenger transport.
‘I’m delighted,’ said Zingara. ‘I’ve gone from looking out the window at the 153 to driving it, and from no qualifications at all to taking my BTEC. The work as a bus driver is all I’d hoped it would be and my family and children are really proud of what I’ve achieved.’
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