Zoe had been unemployed for three years and was extremely anxious when she first came to Prospects. Zoe is now off benefits and loves her job, working as a support worker with Greenbank Care, supporting adults with learning difficulties.
After leaving school Zoe started training to be a hairdresser, but her anxiety made it impossible being in group situations or even going out on her own, so she left her training course and started to withdraw. Looking back, Zoe comments: “I had no aspirations.”
To help Zoe get back into the workforce she joined the government Work Programme and was contacted by Prospects’ Key Worker, Steve, who helps jobseekers by offering advice and practical support on employment and skills. Too nervous to leave the house, Zoe and Steve started the sessions by talking on the telephone for the first few months in order to build trust. This continued until Zoe felt comfortable and confident enough to speak to him in person.
For some time Zoe brought one of her family members to her Prospects meetings, but step by step Steve worked with Zoe to be more independent. Together they agreed to work towards the family member waiting outside the meeting room, then in the car, and eventually staying at home.
Giving her action points to follow to build her confidence, alongside regular weekly reviews of her progress, Steve and Zoe spent quality time to reflect on her achievements and progress until she was able to attend on her own.
Zoe’s confidence grew, and to ensure continued and intensive support, she started volunteering with Prospects as part of the Skills Enhancement Project.
Zoe also began taking part in groups to build on her own employability skills. Steve arranged for Zoe to support another Work Programme learner who did not have English as their first language, and during this course, Zoe’s confidence skyrocketed. She even completed the course herself, gaining a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) award, enabling her to work on a building site. As a result of the support she gave her fellow learner, Zoe was offered work as a Learning Support Tutor with Cornwall College.
Zoe’s supportive nature is now her career, but she has not stopped coming along to Prospects to encourage others. Once a fortnight Zoe attends group sessions mentoring others. She comments: “Coming to group sessions is like being part of a family, when someone gets a job we’re all really pleased, but you miss them, so it’s important to me to keep in touch, even though I have been off benefits for nearly a year I still come in and share my story to help inspire others, after all, I’ve been there.”
Zoe continues: “I wouldn’t have done this by myself, I was not willing and was too nervous. Steve and Prospects changed my life.”