Jane* found that her inability to find work due to her long-term mental health struggles took a real toll on her confidence and wellbeing. She told us how the Bristol Employment Service helped her gain her confidence – and her dream job!

Two women sit together looking at a computer screen“After suffering for 15 years with an eating disorder and depression, I'd been out of paid employment for a long time. I was desperate to get out of the benefits system, as I knew working again would boost my self-confidence and self-worth, but I didn’t know where to start. Being referred to the Bristol Employment Service was a real turning point for me.

When I first met my employment coach, we had a really useful, in-depth discussion – he wanted to know what sort of job I was interested in, what skills I had, and any qualifications I’d gained over the years. Using that information, he talked with me about how best to go about finding the kind of position that I wanted. He also encouraged me to look for voluntary work and to brush up on my computer skills. So, as a starting point, I signed up to a computer class where I gained valuable knowledge and, most importantly, started to gain confidence in my ability to learn new skills. 

"Being referred to the Bristol Employment Service was a real turning point for me."

Due to my health issues, at times I had to take a step back from my search for work. However, my coach was aware of the situation and was very understanding, letting me do everything at my own pace and always remaining supportive. This encouraged me to stay motivated, and between sessions I was always looking through newspapers and job alert emails. I didn’t want just ‘any’ job – I wanted the job which was right for me.

Finally, whilst perusing the local newspaper, I saw an advert for a Fitness Instructor vacancy in a residential care home. I decided to apply for the position; however, after 15 years of unemployment, I really didn’t have any knowledge about writing a CV or filling in an application form. My employment coach spent plenty of time helping me to do this so that I had the best chance possible of getting an interview. He also took me through the interview process in great detail, so that I could go into it feeling calm, positive and prepared. Within two hours of having the interview, I was told I had been offered the job!

Nonetheless, my old lack of confidence crept back in - I didn’t believe I was capable of doing the job, as I had spent so long out of work struggling with my health. I was also frightened of the transition from the benefits system, which I knew well by now, to the new processes I would be faced with once earning (such as claiming working tax credits and housing benefit). My coach gave me a lot of positive encouragement regarding all my fears over taking the job, and with his reassurance I accepted it.

The change wasn’t an easy process for me, especially due to the changes in systems and the admin which came with it. But with every hiccup I had, my employment coach did all that he could to help me sort things out. Nearly five months later, I am happily settled in my job and love every minute of it. Without the help and positive reinforcement from my coach I would never have accepted what I now think is the perfect job for me.”

Find out more about our Employment Support services

* This case study is from a real client of MHM, but the names have been changed and the photo has been staged by an actor to protect their privacy.