We all get nervous ..

Thoughts from our new Peer Support Worker

Nerves, we all get them from time to time and some of us more than others. Sometimes we might dread them, but they are a sign that adrenalin is pumping which is often for really positive reasons. HeadsUp is an employment support project, but that doesn’t mean that our team don’t get nerves on the first day of a new job too!

Enrolling my first participants 

While I am no stranger to working in customer-facing roles; in retail, local politics and instructor roles, I did find myself wondering what I was letting myself in for on my first day in my new job. I’d been unemployed for quite a long period of time so I felt nervous about how things would go.

Sitting alongside my manager who I was shadowing to begin with, I listened and observed how they were approaching signing up new participants to our project. I realised that it was going to be ok, and thought Yes I can do this role.

I found the process of signing up my first two participants straightforward, and I’m looking forward to supporting them through their HeadsUp journey.

It’s Okay

The moral to this brief tale is that its ok to be nervous, everyone has nerves when doing something for the first time!

Finding space and a place . . . again….

Our Peer Support Worker Reflects upon the impact of changing situations

We surprise ourselves perhaps by our need to find space again.  The world is starting to feel busy and finding space can seem like climbing a mountain.

Making Adjustments

After returning to a kind of ‘normality’ some people are finding themselves struggling with full shops and busy public places. Some have found it easy but I have found myself becoming overwhelmed and feeling claustrophobic, it seems like everyone has just adjusted right back to the way it was before, but there is no rush. Finding space again in the ‘public world’ has been a big thing for many of us, finding a small quiet corner in our favourite coffee shop or walking into your favourite shop and there’s no queue (small victories!).

Working with participants out in the world visiting libraries and cafés has really helped with a slow acclimatise to this busy world, it’s helped to build resilience to the hustle and bustle that we have ‘un learned’.

Importance of Resilience

Resilience is key to wellbeing and is a focus of our work with participants at HeadsUp. Building resilience can help to strengthen our existing skills and increases our ability to apply them to deal with stressful and difficult situations.

HeadsUp can help build resilience in three ways, firstly, our wellness and resilience building workshops which help you recognise the potential and skills that you already have and build upon them. Secondly, we help you make a plan to achieve your goals and take steps to get you there which improves resilience and wellbeing. Lastly, we offer targeted support sessions to help develop your practical job seeking skills and build confidence to attend interviews.

Whatever your goals are, HeadsUp are here to help.

It’s okay not to know what you want to do

Reflections on my journey (thoughts from one of the HeadsUp team)

From the age of about twelve I knew I wanted to join the Army as an officer. At the age of nineteen I set off to university where I joined the TA and had a great time up- right up until the point where I realised that the Army really wasn’t what I wanted to do. I had no idea what I did want to do, but now knew the Army was not “it”.

As I left university I was juggling conflicting ideas about my future and found myself taking jobs because I thought they were The Right Thing To Do. Would my parents approve?

There’s no need to apologise

I talk to lots of people who are apologetic about not knowing what they want to do. Often we see and hear stories in the media of exceptionally driven people who single-mindedly pursue success in a given field from an early age: footballers, doctors, millionaire inventors. We hear fewer stories about the vast majority of people who don’t pursue “A Plan”, in part because this is the norm. It is fine to not have A Plan: The World is a big and exciting place, so why restrict your aspirations from an early age? You might have had A Plan, but something has got in the way- injury or illness, or even a change of heart (as in my case). You may have successfully followed A Plan only to find technology or “restructuring” have made your position redundant.

Asking questions is good

It’s natural to question things, to be uncertain. Things change and the concrete realities of even ten years ago were very quickly shown to be short-lived. However unsure you are about what you want to do- or what you can do- you will have skills and talents which are valuable. Talking to others can help you navigate what remains a world filled with opportunity- even if we don’t yet know what those opportunities are. Humankind has been built on the skills and talents of people like you: it is unlikely that the wheel was invented by someone who decided at the age of ten that a couple of upright circles would be really handy for moving things; and I refuse to believe that anyone truly set out in life to “invent” reality TV. Whole continents have been discovered by people who were looking for something else.

So be kind to yourself. If you don’t know what you want to do you’re not lost- you’re finding your way.

Meet Charlotte

Charlotte was working for a garden furniture company as a Customer Service Manager where she managed 5 people and had 3 wage increases due to her exceptional work. Around March 2019, Charlotte went home sick for a week and then Covid hit and everyone had to work from home. She continued to work from home but found herself not going out of the house at all. Her employer had planned for all staff to return to work in the offices by end of May 2021 but Charlotte began to feel fear and anxiety at the thought of even leaving her house, let alone go into work. She wasn’t sleeping and started to feel tired and depressed. Her family and friends noticed a change in her usual chatty self and that she wasn’t going out at all.

Charlotte discussed how she was feeling with her employer and was put on reduced hours. Unfortunately, after some time she still wasn’t sleeping and wasn’t able to do her job. She applied for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC) due to her suffering with anxiety and depression and has been on long term sick since. Sadly, Charlotte’s sister passed away last June from an asthma attack which sent her ‘anxiety through the roof

Seeking Support

Through a Local Authority referral, Charlotte was having therapy sessions with ‘Therapy for you’ to help with her anxiety and depression and found this very helpful. During her time being at home, Charlotte hadn’t tried to look for work, training or courses and felt like both she and her home had become a mess. Her son had been helping to pay bills, but they couldn’t afford internet so it was disconnected. She felt her life was ‘spiraling out of control’ and could see it was affecting her children. Charlotte knew she needed to ‘return to work, to get her out of her mind set and to feel useful again’. Charlotte’s therapy was coming to an end, and she explained that she felt ready to get back into work but didn’t know where or how to start looking for another job which is when her therapist signposted her to HeadsUp.

Starting with HeadsUp

After her first meeting with her Peer Support Worker (PSW) Charlotte felt brilliant for the first time in ages. ‘I was able to be myself with my PSW and explain exactly how I felt’ After discussing job ideas and how to change her career path by exploring the National Careers Service her PSW introduced her to one of the Development and Skills Officer (DSO). Charlotte said, she ‘had no worries about joining HeadsUp as I knew they would have lots of advice on hand and would work at my pace

Developing Practical Job Seeking Skills

The DSO went through a plan of what Charlotte would like to achieve and set up appointments/meetings to help go through her CV, interview techniques, job application forms and to look through Charlottes different transferable skills. Just by having a few of these telephone appointments, she felt so much more motivated, confident, and able to cope, that she even applied for a job! The interview didn’t go too well, as Charlotte had only been out of the house twice before so felt anxious. But Charlotte wanted that experience and felt it was an achievement in itself, as she has felt ‘so low for quite some time’

A new confidence

During her time with HeadsUp, Charlotte has said ‘they have helped me to achieve self-belief, self-worth by the telephone support and encouragement. I really looked forward to our phone calls. They have shown me how to search for jobs and I now have the confidence to apply and attend a job interview on my own and I now have the confidence to know that I’m not too old to change my career! I was really good at my customer service job and now I know how to transfer my skills into other job roles‘.

Charlotte is now volunteering at her local foodbank as she likes being around people and finds this helps with her anxiety to get her out of the house. She says that she has ‘lots of motivation and feels worthy’ she said ‘knowing HeadsUp had faith in me, has helped me to apply for Level 2 course as I feel a hunger and thirst to learn as well as look for work.’ Charlottes friends and family have also noticed the difference in her mental health, as she is laughing and being more organised at home again.

Charlotte said ‘Looking back, I’ve gone from being house bound, to going out and about and being with people. I’m very proud of what I have achieved. I would thousand percent recommend anyone to use the HeadsUp service

Useful links from Charlotte’s story
Therapy for You: https://www.therapyforyou.co.uk/contact
National Careers Service: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/
Find a foodbank: https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/

Matt’s Story

Matt wasn’t looking for work when he started with HeadsUp and had been unemployed for 2 years after making the personal decision to close his successful business. Within this time, he moved to a new house and went through a divorce. He had been having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and trying to cope with anxiety, so wasn’t in a position to look for work.

Finding HeadsUp

It took him a while to get in touch with HeadsUp and to get on board due to his anxiety and being occupied with other things. He liked the fact that HeadsUp was not compulsory and was given time and freedom, he’d worked since the age of 10 so this flexibility was crucial to him. Matt was hoping to refresh his CV as he felt it was outdated and needed re-formatting as he’d not previously needed one whilst running his own business. He also wanted advice on future prospects and what his options may be.

Exploring his skillset

Matt talked through career ideas with his Peer Support Worker (PSW), discussing his experience and skills and how they could fit into different sorts of roles. He was also supported by one of HeadsUp’s Development and Skills Officers (DSO) who helped review his CV, and he was very happy with the final result. Matt explained that he now feels his CV is ‘well written, more to the point and relevant’, he now understands how to tailor his CV to different roles and how to use it as a tool in the application process. From the work Matt completed with HeadsUp Matt feels his motivation has improved along with his confidence to edit and use his CV.

The impact of the right support

The support made Matt feel ‘good, having support rather than sitting around moping not knowing what to do next’. He started to see a change in himself and his confidence, and those around him also told him that they had seen a difference. He started using FaceTime and Zoom with family members over lockdown, he said ‘I wouldn’t have felt able to do it before, I would have been depressed and moping’. He’s proud of the achievements he’s made, feeling more confident about using his CV which he feels now reflects his successful career history. Throughout his time on the project he has felt reassured by having someone check in with him and give him the opportunity to discuss his future options.

Matt is very appreciative of the support he has received for him to now be able to job search independently. His confidence has been boosted by this support and he feels able to explore different options to get back to work. Matt says ‘Yeah, I would definitely recommend HeadsUp