Mark's story

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A young man who has overcome a battle with mental health issues has won a national award recognising his amazing achievements in employment.

Mark Appleton, 26, from Woodlesford in Leeds, was presented with the award by the British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) at their annual conference which was held in 2015 at The Queens hotel in Leeds.

Mark had previously struggled with anxiety and depression, and had been unemployed for over a year. He found it particularly hard to deal with social situations and felt uncomfortable in crowded public places. This made it difficult for him to travel on public transport.

Mark then discovered Pluss, a Leeds based social enterprise that has supported over 1,100 people into work across West Yorkshire.

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.

With Pluss’ support, Mark started as a trainee Stock and Administration Supervisor at Vision Office,a supplier of new and used office furniture in Leeds. With some help to use the train, he began to feel good that people believed in him; his confidence began to grow and eventually he started to use public transport on his own. Slowly and surely, his anxiety in new situations began to decrease – he would go to different locations, and interact with customers all over West Yorkshire. It was good to be working again and his job helped him become a lot more social and get in to a routine.

Mark has been at Vision Office for two years now and has now been promoted to Operations Manager. He has achieved NVQ Level Two in Customer Service, manages sales, warehouse and deliveries, and is helping to streamline the business with his proficient IT skills.

Mark says "I am really pleased to receive this award. I do feel that I am a valued part of Vision Office and it feels good to know they have faith and belief in me to help the company increase productivity and close more business. Thanks to Pluss and Richard at Vision Office, it is great to feel part of a team and it has helped me overcome a lot of my personal issues and get on with life again."

Richard Lucas, Managing Director at Vision Office, is absolutely delighted with Mark’s progress.

"When I was looking to expand my business, I got in touch with Pluss and they introduced me to Mark. Even then, I could tell there was a lot of potential with him. Two years on and Mark is now the Operations Manager. He deals with all aspects of the company in my absence.

"He is a trusted member of the team and I have seen a huge improvement since our first meeting, both professionally and socially. He is a key holder of the business and can be trusted to understand and run all aspects of customer service. I am reaping the reward of Mark’s abilities such as his IT skills and streamlining processes which frees me up to go out and gain additional business for the company.

"I can see a really good future for Mark here at Vision Office and we are delighted that his achievements have been recognised by this award."