The work programme Taunton office
Today is Remembrance Day, the Memorial Day observed since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who died in the line of duty. It is also the day November’s employment figures are released. From July to September 2015 employment is up, with 177,000 more people in work than between April to June. This is great news for the UK and the south west has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the UK. That’s great news for our local economy.
But for some ex-service personnel it is hard to find work and adjust to life outside of the armed forces. Some are vulnerable before they join up, others develop problems during their time in the armed forces and some find the issues start when they get out. For all, finding work can be challenging and the longer you are out of the workplace, the harder it is to get back there.
Being out of work for anyone can be an endless cycle leading to poor health, low self-esteem, mental health issues and disengagement. Feeling devalued by a society you swore to protect hurts and when you reach a low it is hard to believe you will ever turn your life around.
Prospects, the education, employment and skills company, delivering the Work Programme for the Department of Work and Pensions in Somerset, works with ex service personnel, and other job seekers, who find themselves remote from the job market. One person we helped recently in Minehead was Michael.
Michael was in the forces for eight years between 1975 to 1983. An experience which coloured his future. Unable to hold down a regular job after he left Michael spent time in prison before joining the Work Programme in 2014.
Michael has issues around alcohol misuse, and had previously been hospitalised. This, together with mental health problems, meant that he drifted into unemployment. Minehead JobCentre Plus identified Michael as a candidate for the Active Plus programme. The programme is a joint initiative between Prospects advisers and JobCentre advisers working together to find the right, individual approach for Michael.
From the start Michael knew he had to tackle his twin issues of alcohol and poor mental health. Supported by an adviser Michael has overcome his alcohol addiction and has gone from drinking large amounts daily and attending appointments drunk to only having a couple of drinks socially at weekends.
Michael is also addressing his mental health issues. He has been supported by his adviser and is now gaining confidence and improving his self esteem. His growing confidence has meant Michael is now able to participate in group work, communicating at all levels and is now engaging during group sessions. He has also gained qualifications in IT and attained his CSCS card, the Construction Skills Certification Scheme card that enables him to work on a construction site.
Improvements in Michael’s self worth have led him to share his skills and experiences. Alongside his job seeking Michael works as a mentor for other unemployed people in the area, and volunteers running sessions.
Michael comments: “My confidence and self worth has rocketed and I now feel I am adding to the local community after causing trouble years ago and serving time in prison. I had some big barriers before but now I feel I’ve overcome them and am looking forward to finding full time work.”
Shona Howes, Prospects Team Manager in Somerset said: “We are thrilled that Michael has managed to achieve such a turnaround in his life. Confidence and self-esteem are vital elements for a successful life. When you find you have reached a low point it can be impossible to find a way out, leading to poor health, disengagement and issues with addiction. Michael has found his route and is now sharing his story to help others in similar situations.”
Shona added: “The Work Programme is about getting people ready for the right opportunity, for some that might happen almost instantly, but for others who are further from the job market it takes a little longer - but the benefits are huge. Michael is now healthier, happier and making a difference to others. At Prospects it’s about more than just getting people back to work, it’s about giving them back their lives.”
In October Prospects helped 61 people in Somerset back into work. That’s 61 people who are now able to move their lives forward and develop their potential.
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Notes to Editor
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.
For more information please visit: www.prospects.co.uk
Alona de Havilland