New job is a lifeline for Justine

7 Feb 2024
Care assistant Justine became unemployed after a traumatic experience at work sent her mental health into a downward spiral. 

The 52-year-old from Leigh was struggling to pay her bills while trying to manage her anxiety, panic attacks and depression. Life was looking bleak until her work coach at Leigh Jobcentre Plus referred her to Working Well: Pioneer, delivered by Ingeus in Greater Manchester.

Part of the Government’s Universal Support Programme, Working Well: Pioneer helps people with health conditions, disabilities, and other barriers into employment. Unlike traditional employment programmes, it helps participants find a job from the outset, and then offers personalised support to deal with any challenges that may arise at work. 

With the mounting cost of living, Justine was struggling to cope financially after she was forced to give up her 23-year career in healthcare. “I was relying on food banks and it was horrible, my bills swallowed up my money and I had very little left for food,” she says.

When Justine joined Working Well: Pioneer, her keyworker discussed targets and objectives with her and helped her calculate how much better off she could be in employment. Justine was provided with a professional CV and cover letter and given interview tips and advice on how to present herself to employers. Justine said she wanted to work nights, as it would be better for her mental health. “I feel flustered and rushed at other times but at night I feel secure in myself and less anxious,” she says.

Ingeus account manager and disability champion Sharon liaises closely with employers to match people up with a suitable job, and then provides in-work support, ensuring reasonable adjustments are made to help participants stay in their role. Sharon contacted recruitment consultant Sophie at employment agency Staffline to recommend Justine for a job. After taking all the advice on board from Ingeus, Justine’s interview with Staffline was a success. Initially working for a food company, Justine is now a hygiene operative at a supermarket depot in St Helens. 

Ingeus supported Justine with work clothing and travel expenses and Sharon is continuing to provide in-work support and reassurance.

“It’s physical work because you’re constantly moving about but I’m busy and I’ve got my mind occupied. It’s boosted my confidence, it’s made me stronger, mentally tougher, more resilient and determined to get all my work done,” says Justine. “I have had anxiety and depression since I was 16 but it doesn’t stop me working extremely hard.” 

With her finances now much healthier, Justine has been able to stock up on food. “I feel like a squirrel in the winter with my cupboards full, and my fridge and freezer! I wouldn’t have got this job without Ingeus’s help. I thought, ‘I’m not moving on in my life,’ and they came at the right time.”
Meanwhile, Justine’s enthusiasm and strong work ethic has impressed Sophie at Staffline, who adds: “Justine is a brilliant, reliable worker. She is always very positive and always keen for overtime.”

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