"My future is looking so much brighter" - Leo's Story

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Leo was referred to Pluss and the Work and Health Programme in November 2018. He now has a voluntary role with a local charity.

Leo's work goal was to look for any low-hours cleaning roles in the local area. Leo had only sustained paid work with his brother before so when he came to Pluss he wasn't sure what he would be able to do or if he could ever work on his own.

Leo had undertaken voluntary roles in the past working alongside his brother but was fearful of moving into paid employment. It was evident that it was going to take time to gain Leo's trust but his Change Coach was there to help him on this journey.

Leo met with his Change Coach initially on a weekly one-to-one basis to help him prepare to move back into employment. Leo had a very troubled start to life, he was found on a beach as a baby and had been adopted.

Leo struggled at school and left at 14 as he didn’t enjoy learning. He also found it difficult to hear as he was deaf in one ear and has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and lung damage due to excessive smoking. He experienced alcohol and drug abuse later in life and ended up going to prison for over 4 years because of this.

On coming out of prison Leo found day-to-day living too much to bear at times and ended up drinking again. Through sheer determination and support from his family and his brother, he got back on track and has now been free of alcohol since 2008.

Leo initially met his Change Coach at the local library or the Pluss offices accompanied by his brother until he felt comfortable to meet on a one-to-one basis.

Leo's main barrier was that he did not have any ID to prove who he was. He had claimed benefits for many years but had no way of proving his identity. After a few visits and a bit of delving and with the help of his brother, his Change Coach managed to get him a copy of his adoption certificate. This then meant Pluss was able to purchase a provisional driving licence that would provide evidence of Leo's eligibility to work in the UK.

With continuing support from his Change Coach, Leo was then able to think about looking at types of work that he felt he could do. Leo had very basic literacy and numeracy skills. They looked at small cleaning roles but Leo felt he would better be doing some volunteering at the present time to help with his confidence, in dealing with people and potential setbacks.

Leo is now undertaking voluntary work with a local charity so that he can gain some current experience to add to his CV along with a reference. With the help of his Change Coach, Leo will shortly be looking at applying for job roles. Pluss has funded his bike repairs to enable him to get to his voluntary role which has also helped to increase his independence.

Leo's Words

"I was long term unemployed for over 14 years. I found it difficult to find work due to my lack of experience, having a criminal record and not being able to mix with people.

"Genevieve has been so understanding and put me in the right direction. I feel happier now I am getting somewhere with life. I feel calmer, more relaxed and my future is looking a lot better now.

"In the past, it has felt like people are putting me down. I don't feel like that at Pluss, they are so helpful. I have got my ID sorted so I can now apply for paid work. I have now got some volunteer work to look forward to.

"I also have my bike, so I am more independent. Now that I have got my charity experience, I hope to get a job. I felt very happy when Genevieve helped me find the voluntary work, it made me feel wanted."

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