A single mum who was told her tattoos would hinder her job prospects has risen up the ranks to become a shop manager.
Mum-of-five Julie Cameron, 41, manages the Scope charity shop, in Peterlee town centre, despite having little experience four years ago when she was asking the Jobcentre for help.
Determined to provide for her daughters after splitting from her husband, she recalled: “I had always just been a mum and didn’t have the confidence in myself to think I could do anything else.”
Julie added: “I was strongly advised not to get any more tattoos when I was going to the Jobcentre.
“They said it would hinder future opportunities.”
“Being told I couldn’t get any more tattoos only made me more determined.
“Just because I have tattoos it shouldn’t stop me from getting a job. People should never be judged on the way they look.”
Julie attended a college course, gaining qualifications in both IT and retail, before she began volunteering at her local Scope.
She soon became assistant manager and before long she was promoted to store manager.
As a single mum, it’s been hard for Julie to raise five girls and job hunt simultaneously,
She added: “Everything I do is to set a good example for my girls.
“I worked six days a week for six months with no days off as I didn’t have an assistant.”
Julie’s second eldest daughter, Eden, 18, also volunteers in the charity shop.
“Eden saw how hard I was working and wanted to help. She works just as hard”.
The 41-year-old mum has four other daughters, Megan, 22, twins Lily and Sky, 17, and Erin, 12.
Julie has been a stay-at -home parent since she was 18, and so she never expected to be in this position.
She said: “I’m the first to say that on paper there’s no way I’d get a managerial job.
“But I put my mind to it and worked hard.”
Asked what advice she had for other people returning to work after bringing up a family, she said: “Don’t think you’re too old.
“You’re never too old and it’s never too late to get a qualification.
“If you put your mind to something, you can do it.”
Julie was speaking in support of National Volunteering Week to illustrate how volunteering can improve career prospects.
A spokeswoman for Scope praised Julie’s “sheer determination” in gaining qualifications and experience.