Scott's Story

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Scott Barnes, 21, is a Lead Machine Operative at Atlas Packaging in Barnstaple.

Scott has worked at Atlas Packaging for three years and during this time he has progressed from a quiet and shy young man into a confident and competent lead operative. Scott has a history of mental health issues.

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.

Scott’s words

“Before I came to Atlas I was at college studying plumbing. Up until two days before the start of term I had been in a mental health unit and I found it really hard to make the jump back to college. My mental health was getting worse and I had a lot of problems with anxiety. It was having a big impact on my life and I couldn’t find a way to control it. I left college as I struggled with going out and was barely leaving the house. I was in the worst place of my life back then. At the same time I didn’t want to stay on benefits and really wanted to get into work.

“I started on a traineeship at Pluss’ Barnstaple factory. I really liked it; it was a good beginner step to help me socialise with other people and a comfortable place to start working. During the traineeship, Pluss supported me to meet the Production Manager at Atlas. After an eight week work experience I was taken on full time as a permanent member of the team.

“I have been here for three years now running the die press machine and I was pleased to recently move on to a new machine within the company. A lot of my job is to do with time management; making everything run smoothly is very important. It feels amazing and I am happy with where I am. It’s really nice to hear Graham say how well I am doing and I am eager to keep progressing in the company. I get given targets and I want to exceed them every day. I am fairly competitive, I enjoy that.

“Back then I couldn’t see myself being in this position. The difference in me now is amazing. The biggest changes were made in the first year and that has kept me going through the next few years. It has helped me generally in life too and I just want to make sure it keeps improving so I can excel both inside and outside of work.

“I enjoy coming to work as it gives you something to always be thinking about; a new challenge. A lot of it is down to the people you work with. I am always comfortable to talk about the job or raise any issues with the Supervisors.

“When I first came here I was very shy and quiet. People would struggle to get a word out of me. I originally just got on with my work; the people here have brought my personality out and I started socialising; we would go out for a drink at weekends. The first person who trained me here became a good friend. Because I was out with him I bumped into a group of old friends – it was like a butterfly effect. It brought my old self out. You can’t really be quiet with everyone here. They are outgoing and get you talking and as the months went on I started feeling a lot more comfortable. Some of my colleagues have become really good friends. Being able to get on well with people you work with makes a big difference. It’s really built my confidence.

“My mental health issues will always be there, it’s not something I can forget about; I still get some bad days but when I look back and see what I have done it makes it easier to cope with. Each bad day you have gradually gets easier than the previous one. It does get better and you learn to get by. I have also learnt to accept support when it’s offered – you never have to do this alone.

“Now I couldn’t imagine not having a job. I’d be bored out of my mind!”

Graham Campbell, Operations Director at Atlas Packaging

“Scott is committed and driven. His productivity is phenomenal and he has a good understanding of how machines should run efficiently. If only I had 90 Scotts – we’d be singing!

“Scott is responsible for ensuring the machine is maintained and running well, and that his colleagues are using the equipment correctly. He always requests information regarding his performance and output. If only all our operators were like that.

“Atlas recently invested £350k in a new press machine and we identified Scott to be the operative because of his productivity, output and positive attitude.

“Having Scott in the team creates confidence; if you give him a job he just gets on with it. You don’t need to question and that is the core. His positive approach also rubs off on the other staff.

“We like to think we are a caring and transparent company. If we know about issues, we can support as appropriate. Having a culture like this means we can get people like Scott. Everyone needs to be given a chance and when you see the success of Scott, it makes it all worthwhile. You wouldn’t know about Scott’s history – he just gets on with life.

“A few weeks ago a supervisor was on holiday and Scott was responsible for the whole shift and looking after the running order. The manager had complete confidence in him.

“I see real potential for Scott to progress with us in the future.”