Heads Up Service by Enable East

Heads Up Service by Enable East

Laura had been out of work for two and a half years and was job searching before joining HeadsUp. She struggled socially and felt anxious about the prospect of finding employment. Her only support at that point was from her work coach who invited Laura to a Job Centre Plus open day where she first heard about HeadsUp. She felt that often her mental health problems and the challenges she faced weren’t really understood but after talking to one of the HeadsUp’s Peer Support Workers (PSW) she thought ‘this is great, someone with some understanding’. She reflected that she had suffered with mental health problems since she was a teenager and found it ‘quite refreshing’ speaking to someone that understood how she feels and found it ‘comforting and helpful’.

Initially Laura was worried about ‘speaking up and asking for help’ and felt anxious about the whole thing but found that her PSW reassured her straight away. Her goals on joining HeadsUp were to ‘no longer feel anxious about job searching, looking for work or everything social related’. Her PSW encouraged and reassured her in her efforts to achieve her goals and where necessary made some first steps on her behalf, such as making initial contact with a college to enroll Laura on a course.

Laura worked on feeling less anxious about going into the working world by focusing on her mental health and wellbeing with her PSW in parallel with looking for and applying for work. Her PSW helped Laura to face her anxiety about meeting or seeing people by slowly changing their meeting place from the same quiet café with a table tucked away to meeting in different café’s. Laura described how being pushed out of her comfort zone in a safe and supported way enabled her confidence and self-esteem to grow, commenting that ‘[my] confidence and self-esteem has gone a long long way’.

Since taking these steps Laura’s family and friends have all noticed the difference in her, seeing her get back to her old ways, her confidence growing, and she even found herself smiling more. Laura said she is feeling ‘more confident, [my] self-esteem [has] improved and can now push myself more and grow as a person. [HeadsUp] Made me feel supported and comforted by being supported by someone who truly understands’.

Laura is most proud of going to college, going to 3 places in person to apply for a job, and having 2 interviews, these are all things she would never have done before. She had been job searching and thinking about going back to college, whilst still receiving support for her wellbeing from her PSW. Laura completed a wide set of Skill Pods with a Development and Skills Officer (DSO), including CV Skills, Cover Letter Support, Job Searching Skills, Online Applications and Interview Techniques Skills, all making her feel more confident in her job search journey.

The Interview Techniques Skill Pod came at just the right time as a couple of weeks later Laura had an interview for a job and could put what she learnt in to practice. Laura was successful in her interview and was invited in for a 3-hour work trial and shortly after got offered the job! Laura was ecstatic and will now be working within a busy kitchen at a popular sea front restaurant two days a week with the opportunity to increase her hours. She reflected on how proud she felt to get this role explaining it was her first job in 16 years and that her family members were so happy and proud they nearly cried. Laura loved sharing this news with the HeadsUp team and thanked everyone for helping her achieve more than she ever thought she could.

When asked would Laura recommend the HeadsUp service she said ‘100%! I would tell them they can be supported by someone that really understands, I would tell them I went from not leaving the house to meeting in different places and going on courses.’

Read more about Enable East programme.

Juliana Hodel
JRamosdaCostaHodel@Savs-southend.co.uk