Jeff, 53, is a Night Support Worker at Larkstone Supported Living in Barnstaple.
Jeff was first referred to Work Choice in 2013 having been out of work for over 10 years. He has a heart condition and a physical disability that affects his back and shoulders. Due to his ill health he had to leave and re-join the programme several times. Prior to this, Jeff had spent 16 years serving in the armed forces so was used to being busy and active.
Jeff found that being unemployed had a incredibly negative effect on his well-being. When he came to Pluss his confidence was at an all time low and he felt that he was lacking vital employability skills.
After starting with Pluss, Jeff went from regularly attending the Café Info (employability) sessions to being actively involved in running them. Following a period as an In-Work Support Advisor at Pluss, Jeff has now successfully found work with Larkstone Supported Living and is thoroughly enjoying his new job.
“When I first came to Pluss, I wouldn’t give an inch; I was like a bull in a china shop. I was having anger-management and treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress. I didn’t know what to expect so I kept myself to myself and put my barriers up.
“I went from being a customer at the Café Info sessions to actually running them because Pluss thought my army experience would be useful. Then I fell into the role of In-Work Advisor.
“My job was to visit clients in employment where I worked with both the client and their employer in an enabling role. Sometimes I would spend several weeks with a customer, helping them understand how to do their new job. I also did travel training with customers to help prepare them for work.”
Talking about his incredible transformation and his new role, Jeff says: “When I had to leave the programme previously due to ill health I’d had a heart scare and it put things into perspective. I realised I had been looking for jobs I knew I wouldn’t be able to physically do anymore.
“Pluss helped me to gain the certificates and skills I needed to do a different role. With their encouragement, I realised I could go for a Support-Enabler role for people with learning disabilities. They gave me the confidence, support and tools to follow through with getting my new job. It's going really well and I am absolutely loving it.
“It has been hard work but worth it. My wife is chuffed - she is the key to my heart and has supported me all the way through it. It hasn’t always been easy for the two of us but we have stuck together."
Lorraine Brooks, Employment Coach at Pluss in Barnstaple
“Jeff has been on a remarkable journey. When he first came to us he was incredibly guarded and wouldn’t accept help. Now he is a real team player and is so confident in his abilities that he even puts it into practice outside of work.
Marise Mackie, Branch Manager at Pluss Barnstaple
“When I first met Jeff, he had previously been through a number of programmes that hadn’t really helped him and he didn’t hold out much hope that Pluss would do anything differently. The key was to convince him that he had other skills that would be relevant for different sectors.
“The change in Jeff has been amazing and it is because of his hard work. He has embraced the support he has been offered. He has now secured a position with Larkstone Supported Living. Two years ago he would not have considered this as a position that he would be good at. He has grown and developed so much”.