Why Derry's just the job for Aussie
A young Australian woman who fell in love with Londonderry has told of her delight after her original online plea for a job paid off.
While most young people are heading in the opposite direction, Brooke Franklin has now ditched the sunny climes of Perth in Western Australia after falling for the slightly damper charms of the Maiden City.
Determined to find a way to stay in the town she now loves so well, the 26-year-old advertised herself as looking for work locally online last month.
She then struck gold in the north west after attracting the attention of local IT firm PC Patrol.
Brooke, who suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of being born three months premature, said she felt that she was more accepted by people in the local community in Derry than she ever was back home in Perth.
Originally arriving in Derry for a holiday last year, Brooke was so impressed she returned to the ancient walled city this year armed with a five-year ancestral visa.
Fearing that she would have to return home as her disability funding from the Australian government came to an end this month, Brooke's initial self advertisement was taken up by local group Buy It Sell It Local, who advertised her skills on its Facebook page.
Brooke, who had to learn to walk again after major surgery last year, initially received some negative feedback from a few people living elsewhere in Northern Ireland.
But Derry folk rallied behind her and a specific Facebook page entitled 'Get Brooke A Job In Derry' was set up to help.
The former Sandgroper, as Western Australians are nicknamed, said: "I have friends here so I came over for a holiday for six months last year.
"I found it such a different culture, a real culture shock, compared to Perth.
"People in the street would come up and lend you a hand. I liked the way of life.
"Because I have a disability, I don't feel socially accepted in Perth. It's more inclusive here.
"I wanted to come here and make something of myself without being discriminated against.
"The whole reason I'm here is just for something different and just to have a chance."
Brooke said she was delighted when Shaun Harkin, founder of PC Patrol, contacted her.
"I advertised myself on Facebook a month ago and basically over the last few weeks Shaun has been my saviour," she said.
"Previously I had an offer to be a receptionist in a sex shop somewhere else and I was like 'no'.
"I am also a qualified make-up artist, but there didn't seem to be much opportunities.
"Online I had been abused and degraded by some people, but a lot of people, strangers I didn't even know, were saying 'good luck, good luck'.
For Shaun, it was Brooke's skills in sales that caught his attention, while he browsed Buy It Sell It Local's page.
"We were thinking of hiring sales staff when I saw a post Brooke put up and it mentioned sales position, so I put a reply and said send us your CV.
"That got the ball rolling and then we called Brooke in for interview.
"We are launching two new businesses and have just acquired a site, itdepartments.com, which will sell IT departments to small businesses. There is nothing like it in the north west."
Shaun's own success is not that dissimilar to Brooke's, having created his own job eight years ago working from home selling computers.
The young former Aussie started her new job this week and will undergo a month of training on different technical equipment.
She said her success at finding employment proved a point.
"I know there is a massive recession here, but there are jobs out there if you go and look for them, if you want it so bad."