"It's given me a purpose" - Ezra's Story

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Ezra joined the Work and Health Programme in August 2018. He now has a full-time admin job with Activate Learning.
Ezra used to work as an IT Assistant at the University of Oxford. After this period his contract was not extended and he became unemployed in December 2017.
Ezra struggled to find a job elsewhere because he has Asperger syndrome which causes difficulty with social communication. He tried unsuccessfully to find a job for over six months.
In July 2018, with the help of the Jobcentre in Oxford, he decided to join the Work and Health Programme in the hope that we would be able to assist him in finding a job. Ezra was allocated a Change Coach who helped him to update his CV, prepare for an interview and most importantly, with job searching. Additionally, during one-to-one weekly sessions, Ezra’s Change Coach worked with him on building his confidence and communication skills. They contacted multiple employers in both private and public sectors, including his previous employer, the University of Oxford.
Ezra needed an employer who would be very understanding of his needs and give him clear instructions on a daily basis. Activate Learning also referred Ezra to Aspire Employability Service in the hope that they would link him with more employers. Unfortunately, it was a long process and Ezra was getting frustrated.
Ezra’s experience in IT and outstanding interpersonal skills were quickly recognised by the Work and Health Programme manager who offered him a three-week job trial as an administrator at Activate Learning. A job became available in the LifeSkills department for an administration apprentice. The manager for the Work and Health Programme spoke to the department manager and asked her to consider Ezra for the role. 
Ezra was shortlisted and then his Change Coach helped him to complete the application and prepare for the interview. Ezra was successful in securing the apprenticeship role. Thanks to ESF funding, Activate Learning was able to cover Ezra’s travel expenses for over a month and buy professional office clothes.

Ezra has continued to be supported by his Change Coach and meets with her weekly as well as with his manager every month. In his own words, "I was overjoyed and shocked that I was given an opportunity" to work for Activate Learning. Ezra found it very depressing to be unemployed.

Particularly important was having the support and assistance of his Change Coach who not only helped him to apply for the jobs, but more importantly helped him to build his confidence and self-esteem. As Ezra noted, "The personal approach of the Change Coach, as well as knowledge of my limits and capabilities, was what helped me to regain a belief in my skills".

According to Ezra, having a full-time job has changed his life and he is extremely grateful that he was given a chance. As he noted, "It gave me a purpose". Even his neighbours noticed that he looks happier and settled. He enjoys working as an administrator and is very enthusiastic about learning new skills every day.
When answering the question about any plans for the future, Ezra optimistically replies with a big smile on his face, "Let's go with the flow".
The Work and Health Programme is co-financed by the European Social Fund.
Names and photos have been changed.