Moni Balogun is 34 and a Social Care Worker for Choice Care Group.
Moni works in a residential care home for five residents for people with multiple, profound learning and physical disabilities.
Moni lives in West Swindon. She has Cerebral Palsy.
Pluss delivers Work Choice, the Department for Work and Pensions specialist disability employment programme. Work Choice receives funding from the European Social Fund for customers referred to the programme prior to 25th April 2017.
“I help service users with daily living such as getting dressed, washed and eating.
"I like it here. I enjoy that every day is different and fun. Everyone is very welcoming and supportive. I think my skills are my humour, that I am relaxed, welcoming and a good listener.
“I have cerebral palsy and limited use of my left hand side. I was born with it. To begin with I couldn’t do things but I would try and try again. It was frustrating as a child, such as opening bottles, packets and day to day life things. People used to say that I couldn’t do things because I was disabled – even though I can, very much. I have always fought against this.
“I had only done volunteering before for various charities and at a club for children from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds but I was claiming benefits. When I was on benefits I could never afford what I wanted to do. Money was always an issue. And you feel like people don’t take you seriously because you are not in work.
“I saw how the government was dealing with people on benefits and I wanted to take control; be ready to get a job rather than be pushed into it. When I was referred to the job centre, I knew it was going to come and that there might be challenges. They knew I was looking for work and referred me to Pluss. I knew that I wanted to work with people with a learning disability.
“I had applied for jobs before but not got them – either because of my lack of experience or maybe because of my disability. I didn’t blame the employer because I knew the people I wanted to look after need a lot of help. Also as I am Nigerian, I didn’t have a birth certificate and some employers expect this.
“Pluss gave me a lot of help. They helped me look for jobs, helped with my CV and application forms, and I saw Paul on a regular basis. I did employability skills training every week. They helped me get a job as a volunteer and then I went to SEQOL for an eight month placement where I trained to be a carer. It was a good stepping stone. Pluss then helped me to apply for this job. They helped me to develop my confidence, get through the door and overcome any concerns that the employer had.
“Within an hour of applying, we got a call asking me to come for an interview. Pluss accompanied me to the interview and Tracey told me there and then that I had the job. I was so very happy to be offered the job. It felt so final; to finally have my dream job. It is what I have always wanted to do.
“Working has given me a purpose. I feel like people see me in a different manner. You start to actually believe in and respect yourself. It feels good and I hope to stay here for a very long time.
“Working has made a difference outside of work too. I have money that I have earned myself. I have developed friendships with staff members who I meet for coffee. I am going on two holidays this year to Cuba and Germany by myself – I wouldn’t have been able to do this before. Not only because of money but I wouldn’t have had the confidence.”
Tracey Williamson, Home Manager, Choice Care Group
“I think Moni and I hit it off straight away at interview. I knew we would employ her from the minute she walked in the door. She is a breath of fresh air, great fun and will do anything.
“Moni was very quiet to begin with but that has gone now. She has really grown as a person, in confidence and has a huge personality. It’s been lovely to see Moni change from a quiet little mouse to who she is now. All you can hear all around the house is a big laugh and smile and you think ‘what is she up to now? She is amazing with the residents. They love her as do the staff team. She is also a very calming influence.
“To be honest, I don’t see Moni’s disability as an issue. I asked a couple of questions at interview about how she would deal with certain aspects of the job, but she finds her own way of adapting and dealing with things. As she catches the bus to work, we arrange her shifts around the bus timetable and getting lifts with other staff.
“Pluss supported Moni at initial interview and came in regularly to check how she’s progressing. Now she has progressed into unsupported employment and we have no issues at all. We are all very happy.”