“I feel different already! I smile more. I’m just more confident. I’d given up before"

Employment Support Service Client

The biggest achievement was getting this job. All I wanted was a chance. I’ve never doubted how hard I work.

Graham:

“I’d been out of work for eight years. I had given up work to care for my partner who was dying of cancer and I didn’t cope well with it. Most of those eight years, I wouldn’t leave the house. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t go out of the door.

I heard about Employment Support through Community Links – a service I was told about by Sussex Oakleaf where I volunteered and received mental health support.

It got to the point where I was feeling better in myself and I knew I wanted to get back into work but I didn’t know how.”

 

Billie:

“I try to put clients at ease so they tell me what they want – not what they think I want to hear. It’s their journey.

Our first meeting was an initial assessment of Graham’s individual needs - where he was in his current state of mind with his mental health, his employment needs, what he could do, and what his focus was.”

 

Graham:

“We very quickly built a rapport. We built trust. And Billie shared her story. It put me at ease – I knew she understood.”

 

Billie:

“When Graham first walked into my office, he seemed very scared and nervous and unsure of who to trust. We went really deep in that meeting.

Graham facilitated this journey from the beginning, he told me what he needed and what the challenges were. I couldn’t have supported him so well without it.

I enjoy building a relationship with clients. I love watching the transformation. They often remind me of a caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly, out there doing things they thought they couldn’t do.”

 

Graham:

"I feel different already! I smile more. I’m just more confident. I’d given up before. I’d even thought about taking my own life several times.

When I found out I had dyslexia, it helped me, because until then I just thought I was stupid. I can read but I can’t write. It means I can now say to people, “I’ve got dyslexia.””

 

Billie:

“We need to be aware that people with mental health challenges can sometimes have underlying learning disabilities. It’s important we make reasonable adjustments and ensure that employers make them too - throughout the whole process.

With Graham’s dyslexia we adjusted the employment support to suit his needs. For example, the length of his appointments with me increased and the content of our sessions also changed.”

 

Graham:

“Our first meeting was in October. In the first week, I submitted four applications and got responses from all of them. It felt like I had a chance.”

 

Billie:

“And on the second meeting, we agreed to just focus on CVs.

Each appointment was structured so Graham knew what to expect, but we would often veer off which was good because it tested his boundaries and comfort with change.”

 

Graham:

“Every time we met we wrote an application. That momentum was really good for motivation. Especially when I was getting invited to interviews.”

 

Billie:

“We worked very closely together. I supported him in his job search and with the applications. I would also talk to employers on his behalf to discuss his needs. But after he got an interview, it was his responsibility. He had to monitor all emails and respond to them. An important part of the support was working on interview techniques.”

 

Graham:

“I’d never done interviews before in my life, I’d always been self-employed before.

Before February I had two interviews at a supermarket. I’d done very well with the one-to-one interviews and I had been invited to come early to pick up paperwork. But I couldn’t relax because I was told there’d be a group interview and that’s not good for my anxiety.”

 

Billie:

“The supermarket had taken on board our paperwork issues and given 30 minutes pre-interview, but not for the group interview. For Graham that felt like being thrown to the wolves.”

 

Graham:

“But then in February I was invited for an interview as a Click and Collect Driver for another supermarket. All my working career, I’ve driven vans so this was something I knew I could do.

I felt more confident. It was a one-to-one interview and straight away I got on with the manager. It went really well. It was meant to be for one hour but it lasted two hours! He showed me the paperwork that would be involved because of my dyslexia, showed me around, and took my measurements for a uniform! I’m pretty good face-to-face. I just needed to get the interview.

I started work on the 4 March!

They’re a really good employer. I feel like I’ve been there for ages already. My colleague said that I will fit in really well.

There were excellent on the induction day. Phoned me up a few days before and offered support, and asked me how I wanted to do it. So I collected the paperwork three days before and completed it. I didn’t need to call Billie for support. They’d adjusted it for me.

I’m surprised how well I coped with the induction day and the training which was held in a classroom – normally I’d run away from things like that.

I got my first pay packet the other day – it’s nice. I haven’t got to worry about benefits. My health will be better. I’m not sitting staring at four walls.

When I first went out to serve a customer my colleague said, “For goodness sake, you’ve got to talk to them!” I’d forgotten how to, eight years sitting alone. But it’s coming back – the art of socialising.

Physically, it takes it out of me. That first week I was almost crawling home! It’s very tiring but now it’s settling. I’ve lost weight. It’s something I wanted cos I’d put on five stone sitting indoors.

I’m sure it will change other parts of my life too.

The biggest achievement was getting this job. All I wanted was a chance. I’ve never doubted how hard I work.

I just can’t thank Billie enough – it really has been a huge change. It’s teamwork.

This experience has made me realise how important support is. I’m more likely to ask for what I need now, to admit I have trouble with things. I’ve learnt not to give up and to trust people.”

 

 

Our specialist employment support helps people access and retain paid work, complete education and training and get involved in volunteering. Employment Specialists work in partnership with Mental Health Recovery Teams in East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove to provide support tailored to individual needs, goals and aspirations.