Pioneer secures a new future for Francis

24 May 2024
‘Feeling useful again’ is something Francis feared had gone for good after years of battling mental health and addiction issues that ruined his past life. Yet with support from the Work and Health Pioneer programme he’s now being incredibly useful once again as a stadium security guard and wowing his own audiences with the story of his determined fightback. 

Francis’ story begins as an army paratrooper, posted to Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles. Family life followed and Francis ran a successful bar in London until stress and alcohol dependence took their toll. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and his once-thriving business and marriage crumbled, he lost his home and was hospitalised.  

It proved to be a life changing experience as he found his faith and gave up drinking:  

“I began to volunteer, helping with odd jobs at my church and assisting at a local foodbank,” explains Francis, who is 54 and lives in Islington. “It gave me some confidence and sense of purpose back but finding and keeping a job was much more difficult. My schizophrenia medication prevents me from driving and can make me tired.” 

Attending St Luke’s Community Hub in South Islington, Francis was directed to Ingeus and the Work and Health Pioneer programme. The latest phase of Universal Support, it is commissioned by Central London Forward and provides employer-focussed support for unemployed people.  
Francis was soon working with his “amazing” caseworker Kim, updating his CV, being provided with interview clothing, and undertaking health and safety training. After being unemployed for two years, Francis was keen to ease his way back into work and establish a daily routine. Kim and the team prepared him sufficiently to take a part-time cleaning role, while continuing to support him to gain a licence to work in security. Ingeus funded his course and Francis now works flexible shifts as a security guard. He is undertaking Level 2 spectator safety training to work at stadium spectator events. 

“Working with Francis has been inspiring,” says Kim. “He attended every appointment and never gave up – he’s a real symbol of hope and resilience. He put himself well out of his comfort zone to speak at a recent Central London Forward event and had everyone moved to tears. He’s continuing his voluntary work in the community and now has a job that suits him perfectly. His story is a reminder that it's never too late to rewrite your future.” 

“I’ve had nothing but positive experiences at Ingeus and am really thankful for the ongoing support they’re providing me,” concludes Francis. “I still find some days tough but Kim and the mental health team at Ingeus keep me grounded and remind me how far I’ve come. I was unsure what Pioneer could do for me, but it’s been an incredible support in my transition back to work. I finally feel useful, valued, again.” 

Pioneer gives participants access to an employed position within 30 days, with ongoing in-work support to help disadvantaged people find, retain, and thrive in employment:  

Pioneer - Take the first step with WHP Pioneer | Central London Works | Ingeus 

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