Introducing Catherine

Catherine worked for Barnardo’s Uniform Factory for 12 years. Her Mum was diagnosed with Dementia and Catherine left her job to care for her Mum full time which she did for over 15 years before she sadly passed away. Catherine wanted to look for work but felt that due to her lack of experience, qualifications, and her age, she wouldn’t be able to find a job. She was able to apply for benefits whilst she wasn’t working and was offered a back to work program and enrolled for an I.T. and computer course. She passed two I.T exams and was incredibly pleased with herself as she didn’t have any self-confidence.

After more job searching, Catherine attended a training course for a carer’s position as this was all the experience she had. The training led to a job offer working in a care home. After just one day, Catherine decided it wasn’t for her as it brought back too many memories of her Mum and she left. She attended a few further interviews but had no luck and started to feel depressed and hopeless.

She said “I felt like a scrounger being on benefits and it got me down. I was worried my age would hold me back. Because of my anxiety and depression, the Job Centre referred me to HeadsUp and said the organisation can help me get back into work or training. I wasn’t worried about joining HeadsUp as I thought it’s just another company. I didn’t have much hope”

Meeting her Peer Support Worker

Catherine’s first meeting with her Peer Support Worker (PSW) was brilliant. Said she felt listened to and it gave her confidence to look for other work not just care work. Said she was excited to explore other possibilities and how her PSW went that extra mile and was on the ball. Catherine said she felt supported with phone calls she had to make, and nothing was too much trouble. Anything Catherine wanted to know, such as benefits, her PSW would assist her to find out.

Practical Skills

Catherine was then introduced to her Development and Skills Officer (DSO) and spoke about creating a CV, how to job search and interview skills. This made her feel so confident and she started to believe in herself. Catherine felt hopeful at last and that she could do other jobs and not be just a cleaner or a carer. Working with her DSO, taught her how to use a tablet device and how to use her phone to help her to job search on her own. Catherine said her DSO was so patient and kind and she was learning more about computers and felt ready to work.

Catherine’s has said “Being with HeadsUp has given me a lot more confidence and I am happy that somebody was taking an interest in me. I was feeling thick and old, but the team made me feel like a person. I really enjoyed the 1-2-1 support rather than group work as I got so much information and knowledge from them. I even attended a job fair on my own and my sister noticed how much happier I had become. It’s amazing what a bit of self-belief can do for you. I would definitely recommend HeadsUp because they helped me above and beyond. I was a wreck and had no one to turn to and these people lifted me up”

Unfortunately, due to Catherine’s illness becoming worse, she isn’t able to work at the moment, but has said when she is better, she knows that she’ll be happy and confident job searching and amending her CV by herself.

Meet Alan from Westcliffe

Alan was employed as a driver for over 10 years when he and his wife started a family. Following the arrival of their child they decided that his wife would go out to work and Alan would become a house husband. Fast forward 2 years of being a stay-at-home Dad and once the twins started nursery, it was time for Alan to get back to work. Whilst job searching, Alan said he hadn’t realised how anxious it would make him feel. He didn’t know where to start looking as he’d been out of work for some time.

Alan searched the internet for a CV template and paid for one online. When it came back, he said it was rubbish and how it didn’t feel as though it was showing off his skills as well as it should do, however he did use it and sent it out to agencies and for online jobs but said he didn’t have much luck with responses. This had then affected his confidence so much that he didn’t think he could attend any interviews.

Referral to HeadsUp

Alan started to feel hopeless and thought he would never get back to work and enjoy what he used to do. He spoke to his Probation Officer, and they recommended HeadsUp. He made contact and felt much better about the advice he was given even at his first appointment. He said he wasn’t worried about joining HeadsUp as he was open to any help or advice and welcomed the service with open arms! Alan first spoke to his PSW (Peer Support Worker) and explained his issues and how he felt. His PSW made him feel calm and positive about his situation. He said everything was explained clearly so he knew he would work with different members of the HeadsUP team on different skills.

Weekly Sessions

Alan said he looked forward to his weekly sessions. After several sessions with his Development and Skills Officer (DSO) Alan said he was surprised at how much he was learning in such a short time. Alan completed his CV and was learning interview skills and said he felt so supported and much more confident and that his DSO had been amazing in guiding him through the process. Alan said

“My confidence and motivation to find a job has been boosted by their support. The whole process has encouraged me, made me feel positive and my future attainable. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even my good friend, that has been by my side, noticed my positive outlook.”

With Alans new CV and interview skills, he attended a job interview and was successful and offered a job. Alan accepted and is now in full-time employment.

Alan shared the good news about getting a job with his Probation Officer. The Probation service said they will definitely refer more people to HeadsUp services due to Alans positive story.

 Alan said, “Looking back I am proud of myself for sticking with the program. I am a much better person now. Without the organisation, I would still be a procrastinating idiot! HeadsUp has changed my life. I am now employed and happy. I would 100% recommend HeadsUp and their services. “

A new addition to our skills development resource

We’re really pleased to welcome Alison, a new Development and Skills Officer to the HeadsUp team. This means that we now have 3 members of staff dedicated to working with our participants on practical job seeking skills.

A little introduction

Hi, I am Alison and I’m new to the team. My background is supporting people to use the internet, running digital online workshops and I.T. group sessions, so I feel right at home with the I.T. skill pods HeadsUp can offer!

I love how HeadsUp supports participants in getting back into work or training, and my previous teaching experience will help me offer this too. I can provide advice, support and encouragement to participants whether it be creating a CV, to interview skills such as preparing for questions, right through to supporting them on their first day at work. It’s a dream job for me to be able to see a person grow in confidence and take that leap of faith on the HeadsUp project.

Menopause and our mental health

Hot flashes, brain fog, fatigue, disturbed sleep patterns – sound familiar ?

Unfortunately so many people (yes men go through it too) do not recognise this as the menopause, a natural change in our bodies. This period in our life can contribute to any existing and already difficult mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression. In some cases menopause can also be the beginning of the decline into a mental health condition. Sometimes we may not even recognise that what we are feeling or experiencing is as a result of these hormonal changes. Nightmares or peculiar dreams, pubescent issues (acne) all of these symptoms contribute to lack of self-confidence/esteem leading to negative/isolating behavioural changes are all symptoms (amongst many others).

How to cope

We will have individual ways of dealing with the menopause, as impact and response to that impact is a very personal thing. But the message here is we no longer need to do it alone, the word MENOPAUSE is becoming less of a taboo subject. Employers are starting to recognise the effects that menopause has on an individual. The medical, health and food industries are starting to provide valuable information and treatments to help address the symptoms. There is no need to go through this alone, reach out and research. Gather information about your experiences, try different remedies/solutions foods and exercise, what may work for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. This is a journey, your journey, we can let it control us or we can take control of how we want to travel through – all we can do is try !!

Find out more

If you would like to find out more about menopause, then the following may help

Menopause – NHS (

Menopause Matters, menopausal symptoms, remedies, advice

It’s lovely when participants come back to say hello!

I wanted to write a blog to let everyone know how much HeadsUp has helped me – not just during the time when I was on the project, but since I left. I truly believe that it has made me a stronger person – and that’s not only down to the help from my Peer Support Worker, but also from attending the workshops which helped me build resilience and an inner strength – mainly from realising that others are going through the same thing and it’s “not just me”.

I had HeadsUp support for just over a year, and completed a Level 2 qualification. I did go for a couple of interviews, but I wasn’t successful – although I didn’t let this knock me back. I did some volunteering. That helped too.

Time Passes

It’s actually been 3 years since I left the project. I haven’t found a job since. I’ve also had quite a few life challenges during that time. Some to do with family, some to do with my anxieties, and some related to the lockdown situation. But my outlook has changed completely and I no longer feel as though I am failing if I’m not working. I feel happy, content, fulfilled. Words that would not describe me before HeadsUp. And I am doing more training, which I know will help me get a job when the time is right. And I might do some more volunteering. Who knows?

Thank you Signpost and HeadsUp.