"We chat regularly on Zoom calls and she’s helping me through the apprenticeship because I don’t know what will happen in the future"

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Employment Support

My Employment Specialist gave me the confidence to leave the job. She never pushed me - it was a gentle, supportive approach. She helped guide me out of being stuck in jobs that I couldn’t get on with. I don’t think I would have been able to do this myself. 

I started receiving Employment Support in July 2019.

I had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and was not able to go into work because it was causing a lot of issues. I was seeing a psychiatrist and they put me in touch with Southdown to help me find something that was a lot calmer.

There was a six month waiting list but I was fine with it. I was still trying to get over things that happened before. I was very aware that work was contributing to my poor health. I was struggling with jobs in fast food restaurants. It was really stressful as I couldn’t plan ahead because it was a zero hours contract and the rota for the new week would come through really late on a Sunday night.

My Employment Specialist was there to help me find a new job and help with my mental health situation as well. It was really good. Before the national lockdown, we met up in a café or wellbeing centre once a week. It was quite exciting to have some help. 

Because of my anxiety I was freaking out about looking for jobs on my own and so it took the pressure off by searching for something with someone else. Doing it on my own contributed to my depression and anxiety because I would sit there feeling useless. It was daunting.

It was helpful having a specific time to meet and think about jobs and searches because it meant that the rest of the time I could think about other things. We would have a bit of a chat to see how I was doing and then we got down to work to find a job. She said we could go as slow or fast as I liked and only search for things I was comfortable doing. 

She helped me fill out application forms, prepare for interviews, and set up meetings with business owners and leaders. If I didn’t feel up to looking for jobs that week, she would send me emails with jobs she found that would fit my needs. She really helped show me what I can do. I would often say, “I can’t do that” but she told me that I could and gave me confidence.

It was my Employment Specialist who suggested that an apprenticeship would be perfect for me! I wouldn’t have even thought of it. I wanted a job to pay rent to my parents but this position is well paid for an apprenticeship. 

An apprenticeship is a great way to get your foot in the door because it gives you a qualification as well as work. I’m on a Business Administration Apprenticeship based at Wealden District Council for 14 months. I’m studying and working on the job.

I started in early February so because of the coronavirus I’ve had more time working at home than I have working at the office! The council have given me a work laptop, monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

I’ve been getting phone calls each week from a senior officer checking in on me and we also have a Whatsapp group chat – which is mostly lots of pictures of dogs! It’s helpful in making me feel part of the team because I haven’t been there long. 

I never thought working in an office would be for me. I thought it would be stiff and stern with people just looking at screens but everyone is really friendly and chatty. The Chief Executive is really approachable and is making vlogs to update people on what’s going on. Things like that help.

During lockdown, I am taking regular breaks from the computer screen. I go into the main house to chat to my parents and get myself out in the garden for a bit. I can chat to my friends because they are all online and being a gamer I have lots to do! It’s the times when I’m not occupied or when I’m trying to push myself to do something when the anxiety comes.

My Employment Specialist is helping me manage my time and college work because she knows that now I’m locked inside, the anxiety is coming back quite badly. We chat regularly on Zoom calls and she’s helping me through the apprenticeship because I don’t know what will happen in the future. She’s making me feel better about doing it. 

I definitely wouldn’t be in this job without Southdown’s Employment Support! My confidence had disappeared and I felt stuck. I didn’t want to leave my fast food job because I knew it was difficult to get another one. I thought I couldn’t do anything because I was so anxious and depressed.

My Employment Specialist gave me the confidence to leave the job. She never pushed me - it was a gentle, supportive approach. She helped guide me out of being stuck in jobs that I couldn’t get on with. I don’t think I would have been able to do this myself. 

The support definitely helped with my mental health and my finances and I’m allowing myself to think a bit about the future. My goal for life is to have a family and a house. 

It can get better. It’s one of those things that no-one believes, but it can. It’s about getting the right support. The Employment Support service feels like climbing a mountain with someone behind you pushing you up. It’s a fantastic programme!

 

Our specialist Employment Support service 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.