When they joined our programme, they had very low confidence. They previously experienced abuse and faced mental health challenges. They found it difficult to connect with people and felt extremely anxious about speaking in public or talking on the phone to more than one person. However, our careers advisors took a gentle, caring approach and ensured them that they would only ever need to speak to one of our Employability Team at a time, and they began to trust and engage with us.
They told us that they enjoyed spending time with animals and children, and wanted to pursue a career in that field. We explored veterinary and childcare courses with them and mutually agreed that with their current qualifications, they would be best suited to a L2 Teaching Assistant course with a partner organisation. Thanks to our existing partnership, we were able to make the course providers aware of their needs, barriers and mental health challenges in advance. They were very understanding and supportive, and when they enrolled in a small group class, they immediately felt comfortable and in a safe environment.
A few weeks later, they called one of our Careers Advisors distressed and upset. Their job coach had told them that they needed to stop the teaching assistant course as they had found them a job for one day a week for just three weeks. They were told that their benefits could be removed if they did not take the job – but they knew that if they took it, they would be ineligible for the Teaching Assistant course funding.
We believe that it is important for people to be able to pursue their desired career, because if they find a job they enjoy then they are less likely to need benefits again in the future. So we assured them that we would support them to continue their course, and together with our partner organisation we wrote letters to their Job Coach to inform them of their excellent progression and the positive impact on their mental health. As a result, they have been able to continue their Teaching Assistant course without the threat of losing their benefits.
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