Getting back into Employment – Rachel’s Story

Here is Rachel's story of her journey into employment with the guidance from our WiLL project, who helped her to build her confidence and get back into employment.

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.

Rachel was recovering from a breakdown in 2017 caused by work related stress she had experienced in a previous job. As well as recovering she was also volunteering locally for Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA). She decided to contact the WiLL Project as she wanted support in getting her confidence back in the workplace and also help with finding the correct employment for her situation. She didn’t want to be hurt again by another workplace and management, as this made her unable to trust easily. She needed help in finding a safe working environment and to get back into paid employment.

Volunteering has been a natural step for me. It has helped me feel accepted, appreciated and feel that I have made a real difference to people’s lives.

Having a safe volunteering environment with like-minded people has given me a real boost in self esteem and it reduced my fear of leaving the house. Being around the guide dogs has really helped my general wellbeing and routine.

Volunteering in a non-pressured environment, I was able to choose how and when I volunteered, enabling me to manage my recovery better.

Rachel was referred to the WiLL Project  in December 2020, and it has been a lifeline for her during the first half of 2021. When she was referred, she thought that she was ready to go back to work straight away and that it wouldn’t take long for her to get a job. She was assigned a fantastic Key Worker, Zuli, who was realistic about her expectations, but always practical and full of hope for her future.

Zuli saw how broken I was from my old managers and the work related stress and was able to reassure me that my old workplace had been a very bad place to work, but that there were some excellent workplaces out there. Zuli and I met via virtual meetings every week to start with and then every fortnight and eventually monthly as my mental health improved. Because of my past experience, attending meetings was difficult for me as they had been full of anxiety, fear and my Amygdala would engage my body’s natural fight or flight mode.

During each meeting she came alongside me to see how I was and what she could do to help me, she always made our meetings friendly, fun and engaging. She has been instrumental in encouraging me to get out of my comfort zone and has reinstated my confidence in what I can do within a workplace. She has also worked hard to help reassure me of my anxieties from past bad working experiences and has helped me in changing the way I approach workplaces by reducing my fears and expectations.

As well as our regular meetings, Zuli was able to get me access to the LPT Recovery College and WEA courses for free. I have been able to attend a wide variety online sessions which brought structure to my week preparing me to working life, and pushed me to interact with strangers. It has been fantastic to be able to do the online workshops on how best to look after myself in the workplace as well as completing courses on using journaling, art and even singing for better mental health.

Eventually all the above has helped Rachel to gain enough confidence to start applying for jobs and putting her CV out. She has attended workshops where she learned how to set SMART goals, become resilient, update your CV, find jobs that you would like to apply for, and complete an application form. Zuli encouraged her to recreate her LinkedIn profile, and then supported her in setting it up in a way that made her feel safe connecting with companies and searching for suitable jobs. We also supported her to access courses with Leicester Recovery College and provided guidance for applying for volunteering roles.

If i applied for a job, Zuli was happy to read my application form and provide feedback as well as talk through the application process with me. All of the above has been instrumental in me successfully getting my current job in August 2021. It is a very healthy workplace which I love and feel very safe to work within. I cannot express to you how grateful I am to have been able to be part of the WiLL Project and how it has changed my life over the past year.

Rachel is currently, part time employed, working from home. She feels more mentally stable and able to reflect on her situation, thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. She still volunteer’s for GDBA and she has taken on extra responsibilities since gaining confidence through the WiLL Project.

Thank you so much for all the support, time and resources you have provided me during 2021. I would not be where I am today if it was not for Zuli’s help and the WiLL Project.

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.

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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:
0116 257 5050