August 7, 2023
I didn’t get on in school; I always knew that I was more suited to working with my hands. When I was sixteen, I went to college and did a Level 1 Plumbing qualification, but I couldn’t get an apprenticeship.
I called around everywhere, but no one was willing to take me on. People used to say, ‘If you were a young lad you’d have a lot more of a chance.’ One tradesman said, ‘You wouldn’t want to chip your nails.’
Another barrier is my height. I’m only 5’ tall, and a lot of people took one look at me and assumed I couldn’t do the job. This was 15 years ago when being a female plumber was unheard of and the idea of sexism didn’t exist.
With plumbing out of the picture, I went to work in a salon. I was there for six or seven years until I had my twin boys. The twins reignited my interest in plumbing. I wanted something to pass onto them and, besides, I missed plumbing. Salon hours are long and not very flexible. I dreamed about working for myself and being able to pick the boys up whenever.
I went back to college and got my Level 2 Plumbing qualification. The college that I interviewed at seemed brilliant, and they even said that there was a crèche for my boys. But when I officially enrolled they told me that the rule was one child per student. In the end, I had to enroll them in a private nursery.
After that, I rang every single firm I could find. One employer said that if I was 15 or 16 they would’ve given me an apprenticeship. Another thought I was calling on behalf of my son. On the last call, Ruby picked up and agreed to take me on. She runs a female-only firm, and she taught me everything that I know.
Now, I work as a maintenance plumber for a facilities manager that oversees bars in London. My boss scouted me on Instagram, and after booking me in for a few jobs he decided to give me a contract. The work is very flexible, so I can finish early to pick my boys up and make up the time over the weekend.
Another big advantage is that I can do jobs for TaskHer as well. With TaskHer, the customers know what to expect. I’d get major anxiety on the way, and I’d always share my location with my mum on WhatsApp. Now, I look forward to doing private jobs for TaskHer, because the customers know to expect a woman.
My job has its challenges. Once I went to a customer’s home to replace his shower. He looked in my tool bag and said, ‘So, you’ve got real tools then.’ When the job was done he paid another plumber to check the shower because he didn’t trust me to fit it correctly. Another time, a tradesman threw a power drill at me on the site because my pipework wasn’t straight. And that’s when I was still an apprentice!
I know it sounds cheesy, but I love what I do. I’m really proud to be where I am now after just three years. Right now, my life is a mum's life. During the day I focus on plumbing, and then at the end of the day I say, ‘I’m going home to my second job.’ I love being a mum, and because my schedule is so flexible I have enough time to take my boys to museums and parks.
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