Last week, Pluss were delighted to be co-sponsors of Disability Confident, an event targeted at employers to promote the benefits of employing people with a disability.
The event included a range of powerful, motivating speakers and we are honoured to share David Nicholson-Brown’s story:
“For most, if not all, of my adult life I have had a mental health issue. Depression. I wasn’t aware this was classed as a disability until June 2008.
It was at this time I found myself going through a very dark period. I gave up a job that paid very well but I was not happy doing. I was deep in debt, I was going through a break up in a relationship, I wasn’t sleeping, couldn’t concentrate on anything, and was isolating myself from family and friends.
It was at this time I needed these people around me, the people you turn to in times of crisis. I didn’t know how to approach these people and tell them how I was feeling inside. They had no idea how I felt because I hid it so well and those I did talk to, I felt didn’t, or couldn’t understand my way of thinking. I reached a point that I saw no light at the end of the tunnel and believed that they would be better off if I wasn’t here to burden them. I disappeared for one week and in that time I truly believed I was of no use to anybody and everybody would be better off if I wasn’t burdening them with my problems.
I did attempt to take my own life in that time. The fact I stand before you today is proof that it failed and I am glad it failed. It took two years to get to a point where I was able to understand that hiding myself away was in no way beneficial to my mental wellbeing and I volunteered as a uniformed volunteer with the scout movement. It gave me something to focus on other than myself. I went along to meetings and within weeks I was planning sessions for the young people. The enjoyment they got from these sessions was a source of immense pride, in that I was helping to enrich their lives as well as my own. I am today still volunteering with the scouts and taking steps to become an accredited leader. It’s hard work but so rewarding. I was a volunteer for 18 months before taking the next important step on my journey.
It was at this point that I decided I needed to have the structure of work back in my life. I approached the DWP and spoke to a Disability Employment Advisor, a wonderful woman who put me on the road to gaining employment again. I was advised to attend classes at TABS/learn direct (I would highly recommend this) where I upgraded my skills and undertook courses in English, Maths, IT and customer care. I found that I had transferrable skills (I had never heard that term before) that would enable me to move forward in my job search. I found early on in this process that you only get out of this what you put in and I entered into this with the attitude that I was going to learn as much as I could and put in as much effort as I possibly could. If these people were willing to help me then I was willing to help myself too.
After I had finished these courses, I went back to DWP and was offered a placement at Pluss. I’d never heard of them, didn’t know what they did, or even if they could help me. Walking through the door at Pluss, that first time, was the single hardest thing I had done in a long time but I was greeted with such kindness that I knew I was in the right place and I had the support I needed to enable me to move forward.
During my time there I, like all other people who walked through that door, was offered a range of workshops specifically designed to help you back into work. I was given help to rewrite my C.V and tailor it to specific jobs that I was interested in applying for. Job club, where I could actively search for work and apply for jobs and much more besides.
Not only did I get practical help whilst there, I also had people around me who understood my illness and backed me up when I had a wobble. The first interview I gained, I got to within five feet of the entrance and found I couldn’t cross the threshold. I felt that that all the hard work that had been put in by both myself and these marvellous people had been for nothing. It wasn’t until the prospective employer rang Pluss and informed them of my absence and them ringing me that I carried on. Rather than giving up on me, as I expected, the next time I had somebody come along with me and that was something I did not expect. This opened my eyes to the level of support that was available to me, not only practical, but also emotional support, which at that time, and further down the road, was exactly what I needed.
Through Pluss, I was informed of an opening at Enterprise Works for a delivery driver, a role that I was familiar with and had done previously so was not at all daunted by the prospect. I made my own way there, arrived early and met and talked to some of the staff prior to the arrival of my allocated job coach from Pluss, to gauge whether or not this was a suitable environment for me.
Suffice to say, I was happy with what I learnt and obviously made a good impression of myself as I was offered a work trial, which led to a six month contract and recently, I am happy to say, has led to a permanent position being offered to me.
I now look forward to getting up in the mornings and going into work. I pride myself on doing my best each and every day, and if by doing that I can put a smile on someone else’s face I go home a happy man.
I don’t class myself as having just one role at Enterprise Works. I multi-task throughout the day….. I am a delivery driver, I am a shop assistant, and I am a yardman, a forklift truck driver, at times, a problem solver. Most of all I am a very important and valued member of a team! At the same time knowing that there is another team of people behind the scenes who go about their work to ensure that I am able to do mine, the majority of whom also have either a disability or long term health condition.
I didn’t know how being back at work was going to impact upon me. I have had a stumble but Jeanette and her team at Seqol-Enterprise Works, Gillian and her team at Pluss and Lilly at Working Links have always been there to pick me up and aid me to move forward. With their continued support, I have been able to deal with some of the issues which were often making me sink back into depression and this has made a huge difference to my life.
I can’t say what the future holds but for now I am more than happy to continue as I am at Enterprise Works. I can look forward positively in the knowledge that these groups of people are there in the background and can be relied upon to point me in the right direction. There will come a point, I am sure, when I move on but these people I will always hold in the highest regard.
Onwards and Upwards!”