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Meet The... TF Community, Helen, Jersey - TF Tools Ltd

Meet The... TF Community, Helen, Jersey

Meet Helen, she has been a customer of ours for a number of years. We asked her if she would like to feature in our Women in Construction month of September.

Helen not only agreed but also gave us some background info we didn't know previously. Helen was born female but in a male body, she has had quite a tough journey which we were privileged that she chose to share with us. She now identifies as a woman and has had some negativity as result on site.

We wanted to bring attention to this issue and applaud Helen for her bravery in just being who she is. Although she has struggled in the past on site, Helen has now found herself in a better workplace with more supportive colleagues.

If you feel in need of support please don't ever feel alone, there are some amazing groups available for you. I will add the links at the bottom of Helen's blog.

1.Did you always want to work in construction?

No, I didn’t, in-fact my Dad was a carpenter but he wasn’t a great role model and nor was my Mum. Men were men and girls where girls back then and there was no grey line like there is today where either sex can do each other’s jobs but I think some more barriers need to be broken down.

2.How did you start in the trade?

After many years away from my birth place of Jersey, I joined the armed forces. After serving for 9 years I left, after my marriage failed, it prompted me to move back home. I needed employment and a friend told me of a labourers job going. I ended up working for that company for 16 years, after 3 years with them  I went to college to do the evening Carpentry course for 2 years and gained my qualifications.

3. What do you enjoy the most?

Well I can do all aspects of carpentry work from first fix and second fix to doing joinery by hand, to making bespoke units as and when needed as well as fitting kitchens.

I like most of all making bespoke units as I do it all from speaking to the client ordering materials, building, varnishing and fitting by myself and then seeing how happy they are with what I have done afterwards.

You just can’t beat it!

4. What's the one tool you can't live without?

Well I have many tools and I have pondered about this in great detail and have finally come up with one that I can live without rather than can’t live without as all my tools have a place and use so I have failed in this question by changing it lol!

Well it has to be my half inch router as it has only ever been used for male female joints on work tops and as I like to be able to do everything in the  conventional manner first i.e. using hand tools and hand tool skills before using power tools. Then that means I can do the said joint by hand and that I’m confident enough to make the joint if not as good but better than using a machine so it has to be the half inch router.

5. How do you find it being a woman in construction - does it make any difference to you on site?


I have moved firms this year after being with my previous company for nearly 17 yrs where it had been difficult at times. I found out that some of the guys on my new firm had reservations on my appointment, even though I came with a great resume with proven work experience as well as qualifications.

They then saw for them selves what I could do and one of them now says he always learns something from me when he works with me!  Plus I have cost him money as he is buying some tools that he had never seen or used before lol!

So I have been made to feel very welcome this time round but left on good terms with members of staff from my old firm.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?

Well, I love carpentry and I go on YouTube looking for either gaining more carpentry knowledge that I don’t know already or new tools that will or could make a difference, like on T F Tools where so far I have only found one tool that doesn’t live up to what I thought it would do and I’m disappointed with
and I have had a few of them over the years lol.

But other than that I like down time with a mix of TV to Gaming to watching Formula 1 as well as sometimes writing poetry when I feel inspired . I also became a qualified nail technician so that I would know how to do my nails
correctly using gels as I like learning new things.

 

7. What would be your advise to girls/women considering carpentry as a profession?


Well, this is a big question and is something that I feel deeply about. I feel that if you really want to do this job then there is a place for us. However you have to be thick skinned you’ll have to prove yourself more than a guy would to earn our place in the team. 

And to be accepted by them as well as breaking down barriers but it will get easier the more of us girls/women do it over time. We can do it but we have to prove and want to do it by no half measures and not all of us will make it and nor do some boys/men not make it either. 

As we are all made differently and it’s usually the heavy lifting and building site banter that some struggle with. I’m currently passing on my knowledge to a 26 year old woman apprentice so I’m already helping another generation to become a carpenter.

Thanks for sharing Helen, we really appreciate hearing your story,

Lucy, Kel & Ira, Team TF

If you are looking for advice, support and guidance please don't hold back. You are important and should be heard, see the links below;

 

LGBT+ Support

  • Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) - packed with resources, employer best practice guides and a employer and community forum to share advice, expertise and experience. 
  • Stonewall - this organisation aims to help different industries and institutions to be fully accepting and welcoming to all. 
  • Constructing Equality - their vision is to create and sustain a fairer construction industry through the values of fairness, inclusion and respect. 
  • Diversity Jobs - this job site only includes postings from employers that are committed to employing a varied and diverse workforce. 
  • Building Equality - An alliance of construction firms collaborating to drive LGBT+ inclusion.

Don't forget as well the Construction Industry Helpline 24/7 Support

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Comments

Helen Le Gallais - ਅਕਤੂਬਰ 3, 2022

I’d like to say thank you to T F Tools for sharing my story. So thank you T F Tools Team x❤️

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