Due to a family rift, Tara left her home in Wales and moved in with her sister in Oldham. Jobless and anxious, the 23-year-old wanted to get her life back on track as soon as possible. However, despite her previous experience working in hospitality and hairdressing, Tara’s search for employment proved fruitless.
“I thought coming from a small town to a big city, I’d find a job straightaway, but it was so difficult,” says Tara. As well as jobs in hairdressing, she looked for night reception jobs, care work and warehousing positions.
Recognising that Tara’s mental health had taken a knock, her work coach at Oldham Jobcentre Plus referred her to Ingeus for extra support. Tara was introduced to keyworker Basil in the Ingeus Working Well (Work and Health Programme) team in Greater Manchester. The programme is commissioned by Greater Manchester Combined Authority and supports long-term unemployed jobseekers and people with disabilities and health conditions. Providing holistic, tailored help to overcome common stumbling blocks to people successfully securing work, the programme provides expert advice on wellbeing issues, housing, debt, and employability skills. It harnesses the expertise of local partners, specialist agencies and recruiting employers to guide people into sustainable employment.
“I do struggle with anxiety and depression and moving here didn’t help because I was stuck indoors, I had four walls syndrome,” says Tara. “My anxiety was getting worse because I was having to travel by myself in an unknown area; it made me come out of my comfort zone. When I met Basil he was amazing and said how can I help you and what are you struggling with? He listened to me and made me feel so welcome. It was so refreshing to talk to someone who clearly understood the issues I was facing.”
Basil promptly arranged therapy for Tara to manage her anxiety and referred her to a local crisis support service for help with securing housing. He also began searching for jobs on her behalf and was always on hand to offer sympathetic advice. “I had been looking for a job for months and was getting very frustrated with myself. I started going downhill mentally, but Basil calmed me down and really reassured me. It was good to have an expert in my corner and slowly but surely I began to feel more confident about my prospects,” says Tara.
Armed with her new positive outlook and employability tips, Tara seized her moment on the way back from meeting Basil when she overhead a coffee-shop conversation about the venue looking to hire new staff. She expressed an interest and was later invited for a trial. Checking in with a delighted Basil beforehand gave her the final boost she needed to ace the interview and trial shift, before being offered a job! She is now on a 30-hour contract and thoroughly enjoying her work. “It’s amazing, the staff are all so down to earth and I get on with them all so well.”
Tara is still trying to secure her own property but is grateful to have a regular income at last. “My sister is really proud of me. She has been so supportive and understanding throughout but now I can pay her back, it’s a massive weight off my shoulders. She said we’re going to celebrate and book a holiday for next year with her family – she told me I can pay!”
Tara is now keen to recommend the Work and Health Programme to others. She says: “I realise now that Basil was pushing me in the right direction, without actually pushing me. He listened to me and genuinely cared about how I was doing. The whole Working Well team is like family, they are always chatting and smiling. It’s comforting just to be in the room with them. It was the most amazing support I could have been offered and I certainly wouldn’t have gained my job without them. It made all the difference.”