“The future is no longer my enemy.”
48 year old Will from Glastonbury has been out of work since 2008 and claiming Employment Support Allowance. 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. When will joined Ascent in March 2015 he had overcome his alcohol issues but was wary of social interactions, avoiding contact with other people, including friends, at all costs.
What Prospects did
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.”
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.
Outcomes and Results
Working as a volunteer 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 2015 and his 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!”
Will’s confidence has grown to such an extent that in June 2016 he gave a presentation in the House of Commons to mark the launch of the Work Programme research, Hard Times: Smoothing Transitions on the Employment and Support Allowance Customer Journey. At the event Will emphasised how supported he felt when on the Work Programme, commenting: “The future is no longer my enemy.”