Steve Offord, 60, is a Caretaker at OK4U, part of Swindon Borough Council.
Steve is hard working, sincere and conscientious, and a highly valued member of the OK4U team.
In 2012, Steve fractured his ankle and subsequently went through a period of unemployment that left him in an extremely low place. He was then referred to Pluss on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Work Choice programme.
OK4U is a day centre for 127 people who have a learning disability and challenging behaviour.
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.
"I unlock the doors and gates in the morning and then I do the cleaning. I leave at 11.30am and come back at 3.00pm to lock up, and do more cleaning. I really like working with all the people here. It was a bit of an eye opener; quite loud, but I took to it like a duck to water; straight away, as it is such a good environment.
"In 2012, I fractured my ankle, 10 months later they operated and. I was out of work for one and a half years. It had an awful impact on me and I have never felt so terrible in my life. It really opened my eyes to the world as I had to rely on other people to push me around. I was very down; it was bad. I was told I would have to come off Employment Support Allowance and that made me more determined than ever to get a job.
"When I first got to Pluss, Paul and Jo supported me in the right direction. They gave me just the right support as I was so down. I did workshops with Jo – this helped me to build my confidence and I really needed it. I was meek.
"Pluss listened to me. They gave me the right move to get into work; there was determination on both parts. Then they found me two jobs. I couldn’t believe it. I got the job here and then the next day I was offered another job.
"This job has made such a big difference to me; both financially but also with my peace of mind. I don’t worry about things any more. You think too much when you’re unemployed. It’s a sign of stress; thinking all the time.
"Now, it feels really good. I hope I am here until I retire. I am very happy… and now I can plan holidays."
Frances Robinson, Co-ordinator, OK4U.
"Steve is very committed to the job, enthusiastic and is determined to do more. He was a trainee cleaner for six months and we could see his commitment straight away. He wanted to learn and do more so it was really positive. He has made a really big difference.
"We have a small cleaning team here and it’s a really nice team. They all get on really well. Steve is always happy, smiling and pleased to see people.
"The quality of cleaning here needs to be to a high standard for health and to promote the right ethos to parents and carers. Steve’s quality of work is really good. He is so committed and he uses his initiative; he will find things to do himself. Having people like Steve work for us means we stay clean and safe.
"The support from Pluss has also been really good. It is really valuable for Steve for someone to come and visit. It has been really nice for us to offer Steve this opportunity and we have really enjoyed it.
"He still wants to push himself, he wants to do more and he should be very proud of himself."