Pat from Horwich in Bolton is no stranger to physical activity. Working tirelessly in groundworks for a large construction company before a neck operation in 2016 left him unable to continue, he was convinced he would never work again as he hit 60 and a frustrating wall of job rejections. Yet his faith in life, and himself, has been reignited after ‘the best thing I ever did’… joining the Restart Scheme.
Being unemployed for seven years took its toll on Pat, now 63. He became depressed, withdrew from his friends and family, and felt any attempt to find work or retrain at his age were pointless. Referred by Jobcentre Plus to the Restart Scheme, he was subdued and held little hope that his fortunes would change.
Yet Pat now freely admits it was a turning point that changed his life.
The Restart Scheme is delivered on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions in Greater Manchester by Ingeus and its partners. It provides all-round motivation, employability guidance, practical support, and access to local vacancies for unemployed people. Ingeus partner, The Workshop – part of Bolton Council – provides one-to-one support for Restart Scheme participants and Pat began, initially reluctantly, to work with Restart Advisor Patricia.
“She helped me so much, it was unbelievable,” says Pat. “Even when I didn’t see the point of trying, absolutely certain that I’d never find work, Patricia encouraged me. She was convinced she’d find me a job – and she did. And I absolutely love it.”
Patricia set about arranging all the practical support Pat needed: a revised CV, digital skills training to apply for roles online, identification documentation, and travel expenses. Importantly, she also sent Pat to weekly job clubs, and job fairs to build his interaction and confidence around other people. She was a listening ear and friendly support as Pat sadly faced a Christmas unable to buy gifts for his children and grandchildren.
Pat started to see more success with his applications and, although still hesitant about his prospects, attended an interview with Bolton-based Stateside Foods. A supplier of three million pizzas each week to major UK supermarkets, Stateside is an active local employer and a proud Gold Investors in People. It works closely with Bolton Council, The Workshop and Ingeus in its operations, attending Restart Scheme job fairs and open days. It has a strong ethos of recruiting and promoting local workers for its growing factory network at Wingates Industrial Estate.
“We find really good quality candidates through Ingeus and The Workshop,” says Stateside Food’s Talent Advisor Kirsty Ashton. “Often, more experienced workers who have perhaps had longstanding jobs before, are simply rusty on the application or interview process and just need to be given a fair opportunity. We have access to more talented, diverse people through the Restart Scheme.
“We also recognise a great candidate when we see one and Pat was so well prepared, polite, and clearly perfect for our warehousing role, that we snapped him up on the day.”
Pat quickly became one of almost 30 Restart Scheme participants recruited at Stateside, and said he sat in disbelief when he was offered the job.
“It was absolutely unbelievable,” says Pat. “I’d been thinking ‘Why am I even here’ and then they offered me a job. I was speechless.”
Early riser and ever-active Pat opted for an early shift and now works 6am – 2pm, following a four-mile cycle ride into work. He transports ingredients entering the factory and the luxurious premium pizzas leaving the Wingates site. Thanks to his ‘second to none’ work ethic, he has also been fast tracked for forklift truck and powered pallet truck training.
Pat couldn’t be happier: “My life has changed so much already, I’m still pinching myself. My self esteem and confidence have definitely improved, I’ve met some new mates and I’m going out seeing family. I’m loving learning new things at Stateside, and it’s opening a third factory, so who knows what could come next.
“Thank goodness people believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. You’re only as old as you feel, and right now I can’t see me ever wanting to stop.”