He had the willingness to work but a lack of previous experience on his CV put Conn Hughes at a disadvantage. He was also experiencing a problem with his health, which was not being managed correctly. But thanks to the JETS programme, delivered in Preston by Ingeus, Conn was able to get his foot through the door and into the world of work.
Conn, now aged 30, from Garstang, says: “I was unemployed for a few years after leaving college. I got a few work placements and went to university but couldn’t get a job. I have refractory gout which is a bit of a nuisance, I have to take medication to stop my bones from swelling up and I have regular medical checks. I had to drop out of one work placement at a home improvement store because my condition hadn’t been properly diagnosed. It’s mostly under control now but I need to have regular blood tests.”
Conn’s work coach at Preston Jobcentre Plus referred him to Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS), a separate strand of the Work and Health Programme (WHP), delivered in Preston by Ingeus. It is commissioned and financed by the Department for Work and Pensions and deemed to be a European Social Fund match funded programme.
Conn was put in touch with Ingeus employment coach Jill Bradley. At their initial meeting, it became clear that the mobile phone Conn was using to search for jobs was not fit for purpose. Jill arranged for Conn to receive a tablet and assisted in setting him up with Microsoft Teams. “That was a big help because my phone was really old, it was pretty bad,” says Conn.
With a keen interest in retail and hospitality, Conn joined the JETS Hospitality Academy, which was delivered remotely to a group of 19 participants using Teams. Conn passed all five of the accredited online learning modules and was able to update his CV accordingly.
After discussing job vacancies with Jill, Conn decided to apply for a supermarket cleaning role with an agency. He attended an interview a few days later and was offered the job on the spot. “I didn’t know if I was going to get it but they seemed pretty set on hiring me; Jill must have sold me really well to them,” says Conn. He has been in work for seven months now and is keeping fit by cycling the short journey to and from the store.
“The job is going well and I’m friendly with everyone,” he says. “Being around so many other people every day has helped me become less socially anxious, and my work schedule is keeping me active.” He adds that he is grateful to Jill and Ingeus for helping him find a sustainable job. “I feel that many people are like me. Wanting to get out and work, wanting to have a chance to show employers that they can be relied on,” he says. “All we need is some help getting through the door into the working world, and for me Jill was that help.”
Ingeus supports the delivery of JETS in the North West, Greater London, Greater Manchester, the North East, and Central areas. https://ingeus.com/jetsnw