As well as psychological support, our First Step service in Cumbria offers employment support to people receiving treatment. Below, one of our Employment Advisors shares an example of the impact their support can have.
Working as an Employment Advisor can be challenging at times, but supporting people to achieve their goals makes it a very rewarding job. Jill’s* story is an example of why employment support can be such an important and a valuable part of people’s recovery.
Jill had spent two decades supporting and caring for family, and hadn’t been in a formal workplace during that time. When I began supporting Jill, she didn’t feel at all confident that she had the skills or up-to-date work experience that would make her an attractive candidate to employers.
The key to supporting Jill was helping her take steps to overcome those barriers. We spent some time identifying the transferrable skills she could bring to a job from her other life experiences. I also helped her to learn skills around searching, applying, and interviewing for jobs. With my help, Jill put together a CV which she could adapt to apply for different jobs.
Jill quickly understood the importance of updating her IT skills. She was keen to get started on this, and did some development work independently.
Focusing on the importance of lifelong learning was key in building Jill’s confidence. To help boost her IT skills even more, I helped her to find and enrol on a free short course with Open Learn. Jill enjoyed it, and it opened up some new possibilities and opportunities. During a session, whilst reviewing her progress, Jill said to me: “Who would have thought, this time last year, that I would have completed a course!”
Progress wasn’t always smooth, and at times Jill struggled with doubting herself. An important part of my role is being patient, and making sure I’m working at the pace set by the person I’m supporting. When Jill was finding things difficult, I focussed on motivating her, setting achievable goals, and reassuring her that getting a job was something that she could achieve. Reviewing her progress as we went along enabled Jill to see how far she had come, and this helped her to believe in herself more.
At one point, when Jill felt she was putting herself under too much pressure to find and apply for a job, I encouraged her to ‘take a step back’. She took some time to focus on the basics, and look at some information on a specialist careers website, taking some time to digest this. I reassured her that I was only a phone call or email away for support when she needed help.
But Jill surprised herself, when she saw a job by chance that she felt would be a good match for her. Even though she had been taking a break from actively searching for jobs, she felt confident enough to apply for this one. Jill got through to the interview, and was offered the job that same day!
In total, I had eight sessions with Jill, and supported her between these as well. After getting her new job, Jill told me: “Without your help and support, I don’t think I would have got a job. I haven’t been in a workplace environment for a very long time, but throughout our sessions I was encouraged and well-informed.”
Jill understands that securing a job isn’t necessarily the end, but the beginning of a new journey. She is taking it one day at a time, and knows her confidence in the workplace will continue to improve. The skills she developed during our sessions together will also be invaluable whatever career path she decides to take in the future.
*Name changed to protect anonymity.