"They’ve been really happy years for me - the happiest years of my career"

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Employment Support Lead

I’m really proud of the range of employment programmes we’ve developed alongside our Work and Wellbeing IPS service, such as the Work and Health Unit and Work in Mind.

My first role at Southdown was as a Practice Development Trainer. I spent three years with the Training team and learnt a lot. I developed a training package for employment services, risk management training for housing support and helped put in place STAMP – a safety tool Southdown services use with clients to assess the things that might impact on their safety and agree a plan on how to manage these.

Then I took on the role of Contract Manager for Home Works East for a year and a half. The role allowed me to reignite my service development and leadership skills as before I joined Southdown I’d worked as a Service Development Lead with a charity on Welfare to Work Employment Services.

I was then approached to see if I’d be interested in a new opportunity to lead on the business development of our Employment Services. This led to me taking on the role of Contract Manager (subsequently called Operations Manager and then Service Lead) for the department.    

Over the past six years, I’ve worked hard to really develop the Employment Services Team and the services we offer. I’m really proud of the range of employment programmes we’ve developed alongside our Work and Wellbeing IPS service, such as the Work and Health Unit and Work in Mind.

I’m also really proud of the internal engagement within the team and the camaraderie we have. I’ve always tried to create a good culture within the team built on mutual respect. I trust my colleagues to do their job and, hopefully, they trust me. They know they can talk to me and any of the senior management team at any time. At a recent team development day, we laughed so much. The work gets done but in a friendly, warm fashion.

When I think about what have been the highlights of working at Southdown, I have to say, the whole ten years have been a highlight! They’ve been really happy years for me - the happiest years of my career.

I love Southdown and feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have worked in such a forward thinking organisation with great people. My line manager and my senior management team have been amazing as have the whole team and colleagues from other divisions.

The training I’ve received over the years has been great too, such as the PGCE training and a management course which helped crystallise my leadership skills.

A frustration of the job in recent years, I have to say, has been the budget cutting of our services. Year after year, the team really knock themselves out to prove the worth of the services we provide, and then when the budget gets cut it can be a real knockback. I appreciate though that public funding is tight and reliant on government support for the Adult Social Care sector. 

Over the past seven months, during the coronavirus pandemic, the team has been incredible. Almost overnight, the Employment Specialists switched from a delivery method that was very face-to-face to doing things digitally. Inevitably outcomes have dropped but the team are still finding people work. They’ve really risen to the occasion. The senior management team have been cracking too. They’ve got on with things, pulled together and been a steady guiding hand for the rest of the department.

Whilst I’m super excited about my new role, I’m really going to miss everybody. It’s a huge wrench but the right wrench for me and my family.

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, Jobcentres, and employers in East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove to provide support tailored to individual needs, goals and aspirations.