"I feel I’ve made a difference with most of my clients"

Brighter Futures

The best part of my job is meeting people from all walks of life and leaving feeling that I’ve achieved something. I just really like helping people. I look forward to my job.

I’m an Employment Specialist for Brighter Futures. It’s a bit like being a life and work coach. I love it because you are making such big changes to people’s lives.

Brighter Futures is a supported employment service in East Sussex for people who, for whatever reason, cannot sustain employment.

The service is funded for three years by the RBLI, the Big Lottery Fund, and the European Social Fund. Our clients can receive in-depth support for the duration of the project which makes this service unique. We’ve got the time to spend with them.

Every client is an individual with their own needs and this service can provide support to people with mental health challenges, drug and alcohol misuse problems, and a history of criminal convictions. The only criteria is that they haven’t been able to sustain work, but that they want to go to work. We will help enable them to do that. Our aims are to get people work-ready.

I meet clients as often as they need, mostly face-to-face in the community such as in cafés or Southdown’s Wellbeing Hubs. If they’re preparing for interviews then we might speak to each other a couple of times a week - it all depends on what they need at that moment. Sometimes it can be intensive, other times we could meet monthly.

At the initial meeting we complete a support needs assessment. The information that we gather produces a wheel showing where their needs are highest, for example it could be in motivation, health, or housing. We look at that and discuss with the client where the need is most and then address those issues first. Breaking things down makes them seem more achievable and not overwhelming.

Every time I see a client, we create an action plan. An action plan works because it gives the client something to focus on and outlines what they’re going to do and what I’m going to do.

The destination is to get people to help themselves. At the end of the three years, I want them to have all the tools they need to be able to continue on their journey.

This service is getting a very positive reaction from clients. We develop a good rapport and relationship because they know the intensity of the support they’re receiving. They know I’m there and that I want the best for them.

An example of the support I have given involves a homeless client with epilepsy and mental health challenges. I managed to get him temporarily housed and then encouraged him to look for more suitable accommodation because he wasn’t happy where he was.

With the help of Southdown’s Home Works service, he secured a room with a discretionary payment from the council and we got him a grant to cover the admin charge.

Since then I have been helping him become ‘work ready’. He has put together a new CV and attended an employability course. I’ve helped him get a personal alarm service installed and I also supported him in accessing NHS services.

The best part of my job is meeting people from all walks of life and leaving feeling that I’ve achieved something. I just really like helping people. I look forward to my job.

Some people have had some really tough lives and some people have been told they can’t ever work and that affects their confidence. I feel I’ve made a difference with most of my clients. They say, “I feel so much more positive since I’ve seen you.”

The holistic and person-centred approach is very important. I feel really proud of how Southdown helps people with mental health challenges. A lot of clients want to work for Southdown because they’ve liked everybody they’ve met here – they feel they can work with us.

I think work is really really important – especially for some people with mental health conditions.

I have lived experience myself, and when you’ve got too much time, your mind races and focuses on negative things. Work gives you a routine - and you think about the work you’re doing, not yourself. You’ve achieved something and that sense of achievement is really important.

Working also gives you money to do the things you want. It gives you choices. And voluntary work gets you out, meeting new people and making friends. It can help you feel worthwhile.

When I saw this position advertised I was looking for something where I could use my skills and experience in employment services more creatively and not be tied to a desk. I can now plan my own day and diary.

I’d like people to think that if they want to work, they should be able to work. There are so many things out there now to help people get work and support them whilst at work, people just need to ask. Most people want to help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be curious.

 

Brighter Futures is a supported employment service offering support and coaching to people who are out of work and who have struggled to remain in work in the past. The programme works alongside employers, charities, and support groups and focuses on activities to improve health and wellbeing and work readiness and confidence.