Enable helps support people with disabilities into employment and work experience as well as providing personal development opportunities within the county of Shropshire. Started in 1996 as a specialist mental health service, Enable has since expanded to include a specialist learning disability team and a job retention team. Enable has a successful track record of getting people with learning disabilities into work. With the help of innovative employment schemes and approaches, Shropshire is performing well above the national average.
Shropshire is nationally one of several mental health Centres of Excellence of IPS (Individual Placement Support) in mental health employment. IPS can successful be implemented to support people with severe and enduring mental health problems into work. Enable are extensively involved in developing and supporting other services to implement IPS nationally. This blog highlights three individuals they have helped – next week we’ll look at employers they have helped.
Alan Henderson had spent 18 months struggling to find another job after being employed for 30 years. Alan came to Enable for help after unsuccessfully applying for more than 200 jobs!
“I’m registered blind” said Alan “and looking for jobs via newspapers, inaccessible websites and filling in applications was almost impossible for me, but getting involved with Enable made all the difference. Tracey Newell was brilliant, she helped me fill in job application forms and supported me at interviews.”
Alan was eventually offered a job with the Department of Work and Pensions in Telford as a Customer Service Agent dealing with benefit and tax queries. To ensure a smooth transition into his new job Ian Baker, Alan’s line Manager, organised a one to one induction for Alan and Access to Work provided text reading software to enable Alan to use the computer effectively.
“Alan is excellent at his job”, said Ian “he works hard and is so positive and enthusiastic. We’re keen to develop Alan and he is currently undergoing training in benefit fraud which will make his job more interesting. Alan is thrilled to be here and we’re thrilled to have Alan!”
Jackie Hodgkiss, one of Alan’s colleagues at DWP has been mentoring Alan from day one, making sure that he feels part of the team. “Jackie has been fantastic and has a great knack of explaining how things work and she updates me on new processes so I know exactly what I’m doing,” commented Alan. “This is a great place to work as everyone is so friendly and people take time to help me; the DWP have definitely pulled out all the stops. After being unemployed for so long, getting back to work has made me feel on top of the world!”
Last year John Bowen’s life was shattered when after struggling with severe depression and being off work for a long period of time, his marriage broke down. “At that time things could not have seemed blacker. Feeling hopeless, I tried to commit suicide,” said John, “but anxious friends rescued me and I was admitted to Shelton Hospital. With the help I received there and the introduction of care-plan targets, my mood improved. I stopped hating myself and my recovery began.
“Looking back on that period in my life, it was the everyday things that helped me get well; I went to the multigym, I started going to church, I did jigsaw puzzles, went for walks in the gardens. I played chess, sat by the flower beds to eat sandwiches, went to relaxation classes and chatted to fellow patients.”
John continued “Everyone’s illness affects them differently but I realise now that I was able to help myself by giving myself time, I stopped beating myself up for past mistakes and began to hope.”
Despite setbacks, John has made tremendous progress. “I will forever be grateful for my time in hospital which provided a roof over my head when I was homeless and a refuge when all seemed dark. However starting afresh was daunting but Enable were there to support me. They helped me focus on my skills and encouraged me to plan for the future. They gave me good advice and were, and still are, good listeners.”
John’s life has moved on in leaps and bounds, he now has a new house he is busy decorating and is working full time as a music teacher in a local secondary school. He’s also involved as a church organist and leads a church choir.
“With Enable’s help I have found my ideal job. I’m now more in control of my life than I have been for years” said John. “I still get occasional dark days but I recognise them for what they are; fleeting moments on a journey of gradual improvement. The depression and anxiety no longer control me, I control them. I’ve moved on.”
Jonathan Taylor, Team leader of Shrewsbury Outreach Assertive Team for South Staffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Trust was looking to recruit someone with an understanding of mental health problems when he advertised the post of Support Time and Recovery Worker.
“Malcolm, who was appointed to the role, was ideal because of his background as a social worker and his experience as a Relate Counsellor. The job requires Malcolm to be very flexible and he has to turn his hand to many things.”
“The Job’s definitely a mixed bag of tricks. I could be helping clients with their shopping, trips out, assessing people’s mental state, making sure they have their medication or taking them to the doctors” said Malcolm. “After I lost my job as a Social worker in 1997, I became very depressed, resulting in a nervous breakdown. This is the first time I’ve had a paid job in over 10 years.”
“When Malcolm was interviewed I was completely confident that he would be able to do the job,” said Jonathan. “I was initially worried that he might find it all a bit stressful after not working for 10 years but as it turned out, Malcolm has been brilliant and settled in really well and because of his own mental health problems, he understands the people we help so much better.”
“I feel like I’ve turned a massive corner in my life as I never thought I’d ever work again” continued Malcolm. “I like the feeling that I’ve earned my money rather than be given it. I’ve now got a sense of purpose… and no longer feel worthless!”
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