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“Working Well was different to anywhere else. They looked at me as an individual. They looked at what I wanted to do, and what I needed to work on to get into work, rather than just throwing me straight in.”
I had been out of employment for 8 years. I’ve got cerebral palsy and borderline personality disorder. I knew I needed to get help with my health before I could find a job.
The challenge was finding work that was suitable for me. I’d been a nursery nurse, but I was worried about the physical aspects of that job. So, I became depressed; I wasn’t sure where I would work or if I would find something suitable.
At the time, I was on the Work Programme, and felt like I was just a number. They just said ‘you’ve got to get a job; you’ve got to get to work’. It became such a struggle.
At the same time, I was having family problems – I wasn’t really in contact with them. Overall, I was in crisis. That’s when I got referred to Working Well, and things started to change. It was different to anywhere else. They looked at me as an individual. They asked what I wanted to do, and what I needed to work on to get a job, rather than throwing me straight in.
It made me realise, what I needed to do was start at the bottom, build up my confidence and get back into a routine. They held group sessions, which were a massive help to me. They made me realise that I wasn’t alone.
I used to go to the Energise Centre every Tuesday, and we’d look at our strengths and weaknesses, the sort of work we’d want, and how we could get health support. But the biggest thing was getting into a routine and out of the house.
I had a few key workers. After a while, they found me volunteering work. Going out and getting a taste of work after such a long time was daunting – meeting new people and going somewhere I didn’t know. But they supported me, even meeting me at home and helping me to get there.
One day, I went to see my key worker. My benefits had been stopped and I still didn’t have a job. I felt rock bottom. As I was leaving, my key worker asked if I wanted an interview with Working Well there and then! I went in for an interview, dressed in scruffy clothes, I didn’t know what I was going to say and I hadn’t worked for so long.
But, before I even left, I’d been offered the job! I’ll never forget it. Everyone in the office was crying. They’d seen me grow from someone who never thought she’d find work, to someone able to work with them.
I’ve been here eight months now and it’s changed my life. Getting a job doesn’t mean all my problems have gone, but for the first time, I’ve actually held down a job that I’m enjoying – and my confidence is returning.
It’s not just that Working Well has got me work. They’ve helped me reconnect with my family, and I’ve realised that my disabilities are just part of me, they don’t define me.
Working Well was an employment service delivered by Big Life from 2014 to 2018, supporting people who had been through two years of the Work Programme, and remained without employment.