Building my confidence – Zac’s Story

Work.Live.Leicestershire Project - Tackling unemployment in rural Leicestershire

The Work.Live.Leicestershire (WiLL) programme help people who are economically inactive or unemployed who are living in rural Leicestershire to move into job search, training, or employment. Providing volunteer support and opportunities for people to gain experience and confidence.

Here is Zac’s story of his journey into getting into employment with guidance from Zuli, from our WiLL project, who helped him gain new skills and build his confidence.

I have had to deal with my Autism my whole life as a child. It often took me longer to do anything within education, I achieved the same as others when given the time and patience but being diagnosed in my teens this was often few and far between. I left education 4 years ago having failed to finish my University course due to a mix of mistakes, Autism, ADHD and a huge personal naivety. Even though this left me very upset and disappointed with myself I tried to perceive, I tried to look for work or to start a business but lacked the necessary confidence and belief in myself as well as the tools that most neurotypicals possess naturally that help them find work.

The Job centre was not adequate at supporting me because their practises discriminate against the neurodiverse and disabled. Whilst trying to find assistance that was inclusive I found out about VAL and the WiLL Project, through an acquaintance I knew in the local council. The difference from what I’d experienced in the past was vast! For the first time I felt listened to, my disability accepted and I felt very comfortable almost immediately.

From the beginning, the support given to me from the team gave me direction and got me in contact with other possible services that could assist me in building confidence and in gaining the skills that were holding me back from finding work. Everything was progressing smoothly until lockdown came into effect, even through lockdown Zuli kept in contact with me and even though the amount of opportunities shrank, she motivated me to continue my self improvement through lockdown. We also reflected regularly on my progress which helped me to realise how I’d improved in ways I wasn’t even aware of.

Zuli helped me to join Access Generation, a peer panel that helps improve the application and interviewing process for young people and introduced me to The Prince’s Trust to help with starting my business. The Prince’s Trust Team helped me to handle social situations and working in teams. I accessed the Webinart to learn specifically how to excel with a creative business and to get in contact with multiple local creative practitioners.

I also attended multiple webinars through recovery collage. None of this would have been possible to achieve without Zuli’s consistent assistance and support. She has always been understanding of my disabilities and both assisted me when needed, and also helped me to try new things out of my comfort zone in a supportive way.

Through the project I had gained a confidence in myself I never thought was possible, things that used to cause me debilitating anxiety I now feel confident enough to overcome independently. I feel my future is much brighter for having been part of the project. COVID-19 may have slowed the process but the way I feel about myself and the world is significantly more positive. The project gave me direction when I felt lost and it helped me wrestle control away from my disability and anxiety.

The Work.Live Leicestershire (WiLL) Project is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and The European Social Fund. It is delivered in partnership with Voluntary Action LeicesterShire.

Get involved in volunteering

If you’re inspired to get involved in volunteering, you can find out more on our VAL Volunteering website.

If you’re a voluntary, community or social enterprise organisation who wants more support with recruiting or managing volunteers, you can get in touch with us via:
0116 257 5050