I'm happy to be in work - Patrick's Story

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Patrick was referred to the Work and Health Programme in June 2018. He now has a job at Home Hardware.

At the time of his referral, Patrick had no paid work history, only voluntary work at Tesco’s. Patrick has a learning disability and was referred under the health and disability banner.

Patrick lives in supported living and his support worker was keen for Patrick to find paid employment. Patrick openly admitted he was not motivated to find work as he managed relatively well on his benefits.

Patrick attended the first meeting with his support worker. At this point, his support worker advised that Patrick had not actively engaged in looking at his employment options with any organisation that had supported him. He was concerned that Patrick would not turn up for any subsequent appointments. This turned out to be the complete opposite and Patrick ended up being in the office as often as most full-time staff.

One of the biggest issues in engaging with Patrick was that for a variety of reasons he had got into a habit of changing his phone number almost on a weekly basis. One of the first tasks was to find a way of ensuring that Patrick kept the same phone number to make contacting him easier. He was set the target of keeping the same telephone number for 2 months with the promise of a breakfast box from the local greasy spoon if he achieved this, which he did.

Patrick was also encouraged to attend all the internal training to build on his understanding of employer requirements, and what the rules and regulations of employment were to ensure that once he found work he could sustain this. 

Patrick attended internal training on a weekly basis. Initially, one of the principal objectives was to keep him focused on a task and gently encourage him not to go off on a tangent.

Whilst looking for work, Patrick completed a digital inclusion course that supported him to build on his basic IT knowledge. This was a full-time two-week course and Patrick had 100% attendance and achieved a Level 1 in IT.

Patrick then went on to complete Level 1 and 2 Employability courses with an external provider which also included a First Aid Certificate, and this was a 3-week full-time course. What was apparent from Patrick engaging in these courses was the way he was able to interact with his peers and just how much they liked him as an individual.  

Throughout this initial engagement on the programme, Patrick met with his Change Coach on a fortnightly basis. These sessions were used to explore the type of work that he wanted to undertake and to discuss the skills required for these roles. He was also encouraged to look at the jobs available and to understand the skills that he already had. At the same time, it was important to find a way that would encourage and motivate Patrick to want to move into paid employment.

This was a very gradual process and week-by-week his Change Coach helped him to move forward, alongside trying to keep Patrick from changing his phone number and dealing with some of the “scrapes” that Patrick got himself into. Gradually Patrick’s love of football and the football kit was the motivation for him to want to find work, by drip-feeding how he could use the extra money he would get from working to buy the latest kits!

When looking at Patrick’s engagement time actively attending the office and his level of constructive activity, Patrick has engaged with the Work and Health Programme on an average of 8 hours per week, for every week that he has been on the programme. 

To test out Patrick’s commitment and reliability within a working environment, Patrick undertook a three-week work experience placement in the Pluss factory, which is next door to the Work and Health Programme office. The aim of this was to assess Patrick’s ability to follow and adhere to instructions and to look at how he could sustain his focus on employment and the tasks he was required to undertake, what distracted him and what it took to get him refocused. This identified the level of support that Patrick was likely to require on an employed basis.

For most of the first 12 months of the programme, there was no real active engagement with employers, as the focus was on gently building on Patrick’s understanding and his employability skills. Patrick was supported to purchase some interview clothes to ensure he was appropriately dressed for any interviews that came up.

By May 2019 with the support of his Change Coach Patrick had come up with a job-goal of working within a supermarket environment. With all the training that Patrick had completed, he now had a really strong CV and he had undertaken loads of mock interviews with a variety of different staff members. However, he was still going to require support to engage effectively and market himself to prospective employers. This is when his Change Coach started to approach employers who were not advertising but where it was felt there may be some opportunities that would be relevant for Patrick.

Seetec Pluss and Pluss had previously supported a young man in Home Hardware and historically they had a reputation of regularly recruiting. They had previously demonstrated their ability to support someone with additional needs and recognised the benefits of having a diverse workforce, particularly someone who relished undertaking structured and routine tasks.

A speculative approach was made to Home Hardware with Patricks’s Change Coach promoting his likeability and his wicked sense of humour, and encouraged them to look past his lack of paid employment history and formal education. Patrick was offered a work experience placement and before he started Patrick’s Change Coach took him along to meet the staff he would be working with and to identify a suitable “Work Buddy”.  With the accompaniment of his Work Buddy, he was taken through the tasks that he would be doing to ensure that he would be able to undertake all aspects of his role and who to speak to if he had any issues. Patrick was approaching the end of his 15 months on the Work and Health Programme, so time was of the essence.

Patrick is now working, he started work with Home Hardware at the beginning of August. It just so happens that Home Hardware is just around the corner from the Seetec Pluss office and Patrick is still popping into the office on a daily basis to give staff an update on how he is getting on!  

Patrick has been moved over to Seetec Pluss’ centralised In-Work Support team. In addition to his daily visits to the office, he is receiving regular telephone support.

Patrick is happy to be in work. He is glad that someone has respected him as an individual and given him the time and support to achieve his potential. 

The Work and Health Programme is co-financed by the European Social Fund. Names have been changed.