Giving is the perfect gift this Christmas
Employment figures for the UK reveal that more people in the UK are in work than ever before. Records began in 1971 and between August to October 2015, 73.9% of people aged from 16 to 64 were in work, the highest employment rate since comparable statistics started being recorded. The unemployment rate, for the quarter August to October 2015, is down to 5.2% from 6.0% a year ago. This is great news for everyone making plans to celebrate the festive period. But not everyone finds it easy to get into work. Many people who are long term unemployed undervalue themselves and lack the skills required to get a new job.
Loretta Brown ( Somerset Lead Delivery Adviser ) Keith Wilson ( East Somerset Ascent Adviser ) with Will
Prospects, the employment, education and skills company, run the Work Programme for the DWP. This programme supports people who are long term unemployed gain the skills to get back into work. For many the biggest barrier is the way they feel about themselves. Low self esteem and a lack of confidence is debilitating, it isolates people making it harder for them to build relationships and social networks. At Prospects we recognise that building someone’s confidence is as vital as creating a good CV when it comes to successfully finding a job.
One person we recently helped was 48 year old Will from Glastonbury. Will has been out of work since 2008. He previously worked in a vineyard where he dealt with the vines as well as on reception and waitering, he cared for people with autism and undertook bar work and catering roles.
Will joined Ascent in March 2015, an individual programme created by Prospects run across the south west. Targeted sessions help people improve their confidence, team working and self esteem whilst gaining valuable employability skills. Very quickly Will found his confidence was improving in group situations and he the positive environment created by the sessions enabled him to build a great deal of trust in his adviser.
Will commented: “I found the groups very positive and was pleasantly surprised to recognize that Prospects were there to help me make my situation better.”
Before joining Ascent Will managed to conquer his alcohol problems, but was living like a hermit with his curtains closed as he shut himself off from the world. By attending
sessions Will realised he had to make changes in his life to move forward.
Will was provided with a Prospects personal adviser, in addition to being his first point of contact she worked closely with him to find out about his interests. When Will revealed he loved gardening during a group session she encouraged him to get involved in community/voluntary work and another member of the group suggested he approach the Magdalene Chapel (St Margarets) in Glastonbury as they were looking for volunteers to help tend their gardens.
Will approached the staff at the chapel and was offered an interview, the first he had attended in many years. Prospects supported Will with interview advice. Following a successful interview Will was told the team at the Magdalene Chapel liked him he was offered a voluntary role providing him with a job description to work in the garden.
This was a turning point for Will as he felt wanted and valued. He strongly believes his voluntary work will lead him to re-enter the workforce.
Will has been working at the chapel since August and his my life has been transformed. Will said: “The people are really friendly and I am getting great feedback. Its great to feel part of the world again and I can now envisage this leading to me returning to paid employment with my new found confidence and increasing social network. I have also secured an allotment through the local council and this is also giving me a purpose and a valuable activity.”
Will adds: “My old friends can’t believe I’m the same person and they genuinely tell me how well I look. A new world has opened for me and it’s given me back what I desperately needed – something positive in my life. The support from Prospects and my voluntary job have encouraged me to adopt a ‘can-do’ approach and I feel that overall it has improved my health. I have what I desperately needed – positivity and support which has increased my confidence and made me realise I can achieve good things in life.
“With my new found confidence I feel like I am going to make a full recovery. Now when I have negative thoughts they are quickly eradicated from my mind. I love being in the chapel and gardens as it is a place of serenity whether I am sweeping paths or talking to visitors and really feel ‘part of it’. I feel like Neo waking up from the Matrix!”
Shona Howes from Prospects added: “When someone has been long term unemployed they can become isolated and lose touch with their community, family and friends, this can lead to depression and mental illness. People who join the Work Programme are often a long way from the job market.
“At Prospects we work with people as individuals to help them rebuild their lives and grow their confidence. For some re-establishing contact with a favourite activity is a vital stepping stone, others need help to overcome low self-esteem, we work with everyone differently to help them gain the skills and motivation they need to move into work.
“We wholeheartedly believe that the Work Programme is about more than just getting people back to work, it’s about giving them back their lives. This Christmas looks like it will be a very happy one for Will. Next year we are looking forward to helping more people on their journey back to work.”
To find out more about the work Prospects does to help get the south west working contact www.prospects.co.uk or http://www.gettingthesouthwestworking.co.uk/.
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Notes to Editor
Attached photographs of Loretta Brown ( Somerset Lead Delivery Adviser ) Keith Wilson ( East Somerset Ascent Adviser ) with Will.
The Prospects Group is a dynamic and enterprising organisation providing a wide range of education, employment and skills services in the UK and internationally. At the heart of what we do is the drive to improve the life chances, skills and aspirations of everyone we support. Each year we support more than 500,000 young people and adults.
Alona de Havilland