Impact Initiatives is a local organisation helping people of all ages to live healthy and fulfilling lives. Their services include supported housing, advocacy, support for young people, cafés, centres and activities for people aged 50+, employment support and out-of-school activities.
Supported Employment West Sussex (SEWS) is a new service operated by Impact Workability and the Aldingbourne Trust’s WorkAid. The scheme aims to match adults with learning disabilities, autism, physical disability, sensory impairment and/or acquired brain injury, or those who are carers, with suitable work placements and includes help for employers to get the most from their valuable and productive new employee.
Paula* was referred to the service to help find voluntary or part time paid work to give her a break from her caring responsibilities. She is a young mother with two young boys with little support from her husband, and cares for her sister who has a mental health condition and her mother who has a physical disability. Juggling a busy family life with her caring responsibilities and very little support from her husband really takes a toll on Paula. She has struggled with her own self confidence and on initial meeting with myself, she didn’t feel she had anything to offer an employer. We took some time to look at all her previous work history and transferable skills from her caring and parental roles to put together a CV. We explored voluntary work options and courses that Paula was interested in doing, we also sourced funding to help meet the costs of the course. After a few sessions, Paula started a Teaching Assistant/Child Development course and after a shaky start, she soon began to look forward to the course sessions.
Over time, Paula’s confidence grew. She was still very limited with free time to volunteer or work much but we continued to look for something with the right amount of hours and on the days suitable to Paula’s situation. A very part time role became available in a shop at Gatwick Airport, it was for one 7 hour shift on a Sunday. Her husband would be home that day to take care of the children and she felt that as the shift started at 4 am and finished before lunch time, she would still be able to see her sister and mother if needed after work. Making the application, we waited. Paula was offered an interview and subsequently the job. Seeing Paula’s confidence grow even more when she started work was very rewarding. With everything the Paula juggles in her week, she says her one 7 hour shift gives her an opportunity to be herself, time away from her caring responsibilities. She looks forward to her early morning shift once a week and reflects back on her shift over the next few days. Paula says it makes an immeasurable difference to her life having this job and means everything she deals with is more manageable. Paula hopes to increase her working hours in time.
*name has been changed
Hilary first contacted the service in December. We met and she explained her situation. She has a 21 years old daughter with Down’s syndrome, Suzy. Suzy has been away at College for the last 3 years but was due to return to the local area in the summer, and Hilary was beginning to plan how that would work. For much of Suzy’s childhood, Hilary had worked in fundraising roles that fitted around her caring roles, but chose to take a break 2 years ago as she had felt completely overwhelmed.
Hilary had always felt valued when she was working, she didn’t enjoy being termed as a carer. When we met, Hilary had been thinking about returning to paid employment, but having had a 2 year gap, felt that she would struggle to return to her previous roles.
We discussed all of Hilary’s skills, skills that she has developed being a parent/carer. She has organised work experience for her daughter, chaired carer groups, campaigned for access amongst many other things.
Hilary found that this developed her belief in herself and was encouraged to apply for roles within learning disability services. She has now been successful in securing a role with Workaid as an administrator, a position that will allow her skills to be used brilliantly. Hilary has now started her role, initially she has been able to start on reduced hours to fit around Suzy’s return to the area, and these will increase as Suzy starts at College.
Further feedback from Hilary has been really positive, she feels that the job suits her and her situation perfectly, and that Impact Workability’s input enabled her to think differently and explore other options.