WORKING WIN CASE STUDIES
Working Win is helping hundreds of people with health conditions in South Yorkshire to access support to find or retain a job.
Read some of their inspirational stories below starting with Steven, a Retail Manager who was referred to Working Win by his GP and counsellor and received support from a Working Win Employment Specialist to stay in work.
Retail Manager, Steven was referred to Working Win by his GP and counsellor and received support from a Working Win Employment Specialist to stay in work.
“The practical support from Working Win helped me to focus, specifically around my mental health in the workplace. When I think back, I was so low, I think my intention had been to leave my current role because I felt it was making me unhappy. In actual fact, there were a number of changes I was able to make that have made it possible for me to stay in work and even help other people in my team who are having similar struggles.
“The first positive change I made was to speak up for myself. You might think that as a manager, this is something I should be able to do anyway. The truth is, I found it very difficult. Once I had recognised what support I needed, I felt able to approach the Area Manager and explain that I didn’t feel able to fulfil my duties safely and legally because of a lack of training. Whilst online training had been provided, I didn’t feel like this was adequate.
“To my surprise, my employer was extremely positive. They booked me straight onto a Health and Safety course that had practical lessons and explained in person what my responsibilities were and how to go about my daily checks properly. This is the kind of stuff you just can’t get from an online course. I now feel that I can keep my staff and customers safe because I know exactly what I am doing. This has been massively beneficial to how I feel about myself and about my job.
“This is just one of the ways that my situation at work has changed for the better. The other is that I now feel confident to talk openly about the depression I have experienced and support other people to talk about it too. Two of my team members have now disclosed to me the battles that they are having, and I’ve been able to access counselling for them through our employer.”
“I’m looking forward to starting a new job. My attitude has changed for the better and I’m ready for a new chapter in my life.”
When Justin first started with Working Win he explained to his Employment Specialist Jo how he wasn’t in a great place – he was struggling with his depression and was out of work.
“I had no job, no money and was living beyond my means. I hardly socialised with anyone because my depression was showing its ugly head. But now, I’m feeling positive for the first time in a long time and looking forward to starting my new role as Support Worker for adults with Autism.”
Justin worked with Jo throughout his journey with Working Win. She was able to help with his CV writing, applying for potential jobs along with being on hand for general 1-1 support.
“Jo was just there for me. She always asked if there was anything more she could help me with, and gave me positive feedback, advice and encouragement.
“I worked with Citizen Advice at the start of my journey to find work and then Jo took over looking at job vacancies with me.”
Justin is now looking forward to the next chapter in his life working as a Support Worker. He said, “My new job is a totally different role from my previous roles. I’ll be using my customer service skills, hospitality skills and general life skills.
“Although is a little different at the moment, with Covid-19, my two children are really helping me through. We make sure to go for regular walks which helps to keep my brain and body active plus children always ask if I’m okay and tell me how proud of me they are.
“I’d just like to say a huge thank you to Jo for all of her help, encouragement and great advice. Getting to know her has been one of things I have enjoyed the most and she’s helped me see the better person that I have within myself.”
Supported by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department for Work and Pensions; Working Win was a free trial testing a new type of support for people with mental or physical health conditions that are affecting their work or their ability to find a job.
If you live in South Yorkshire or Bassetlaw, you can learn more Working Win Referrals website.
Forty-four year old Davydd is a Joiner and Carpenter by trade. He had always enjoyed steady employment, up until two years ago, when he had a serious accident at work and his life changed dramatically.
Not one to wallow; Davydd is infectiously upbeat. His journey to a new career makes for an inspirational read and is a testament to his strength and determination. Here, Davydd shares his story with us.
“I should start by letting you know that I don’t live in the past. Whilst my accident was horrific, and I have to deal with the long-term effects from it every day, I’m not going to let it get me down, and I’m certainly not going to let it stop me doing what I’m good at.
“When I first learnt that my insurance would no longer cover me on construction sites because of the health condition I’ve been left with, I had a big decision to make about what the rest of my life was going to look like.
“I’ve always been good with my hands. I suppose that is why I worked with wood for so many years, so I think I knew right from the start that this was the foundation that I needed to build on.
“It was my daughter that first gave me the idea to go down the Massage Therapy and Reflexology route. I was rubbing her shoulders and she just turned to me and said ‘Dad, you are really good at that, you should do it as a job.’ And I thought – why not! I get to use my hands. I get to meet people. I get to heal people. It sounded perfect.
“I’m a born optimist, so once I have my mind set on something, I’m pretty good at believing it will happen and making it happen. I passed my Level 2 certificate in Massage Therapy this summer, and I’m on my way to achieving my Level 3. As soon as I have this, I can work for myself. I’m an ambitious person but since the accident I’ve had to learn to listen to my body as well as my drive and working for myself will mean that I have complete control over my environment and my wellbeing. It ticks all of the boxes for me.”
Davydd is continuing with his rehabilitation programme whilst driving his future forward with a new-found passion for a career in therapy. With a nomination for ‘student of the year’ already firmly under his belt, there really doesn’t seem like anything is going to stand in his way
Davydd signed up to Working Win in 2018. Supported by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department for Work and Pensions; Working Win is a free trial testing a new type of support for people with mental or physical health conditions that are affecting their work or their ability to find a job. If you live in South Yorkshire or Bassetlaw, you can learn more and refer yourself to the trial Working Win Referrals website.
“I’m literally living my dream. I know that is going to sound odd to some people, but I have always wanted to do this, and now I’m finally doing it!”
Susanne is one of the most enthusiastic bus drivers you’ll ever meet. She loves every aspect of the job; from learning the routes, to conversing with the customers, to working closely with the control room and the wider team. But perhaps her favourite part (the part that makes her eyes light up when she talks about it), is getting to drive the 14-tonne bus (the weight of about 4 midsize cars) around hilly Sheffield.
.“What is not to love about that! The bus is a beast, and it feels great to drive it. I’ve always wanted to be behind the wheel of a big vehicle. I used to pass wagons on the motorway and dream about working as a truck driver. This is even better though, because I get to interact with people too.”
Susanne didn’t take her driving test until she was 41, and aged 45, she has found her perfect job; working for a South Yorkshire bus company. After growing up in Liverpool, Susanne moved to Sheffield in her late 20s, to be close to family. She has done various jobs over the years, but nothing that has given her the satisfaction that she gets today.
This new job has been a lifeline for Susanne and her family. After experiencing difficulties in her last role, where she worked in manufacturing, Susanne visited her GP and was signed off with work related stress.
“It’s hard to explain how bad it got, mainly because things are so much better now, so I suppose that it is a good thing that I can’t fully recall it. I had some serious concerns about health and safety at work, which I had raised with my employer, and I suppose the long and short of it is that I didn’t feel ‘listened’ to. I started to panic about going to work. I felt like it was dangerous, that people were at risk. I felt like I was the only one speaking out about it and nothing was being done. It was like I didn’t exist. The longer it took for my managers to respond to the issues I’d identified, the more stressed I became. In the end, I visited the doctor because I was crying all the time, not sleeping, and I had become fearful about going to work. I feel so different now though.”
Accessing counselling and other support through her GP meant that Susanne was able to talk about her feelings with trained professionals and start her journey to recovery.
“My husband had been telling me that I needed to change jobs for a while, but sometimes it’s hard to take advice from the people closest to you. Once I’d started to feel better, and I felt like I was being listened to finally, I realised that this was exactly what I needed to do. My stress was related to the environment I was in, and by taking positive steps to change that environment, I could take back control of my health and wellbeing. So that is what I did!”
You may well see Susanne driving her bus around South Yorkshire. If you do, be sure to say hello – chatting with customers is one of the best parts of her job. She also loves the culture of her new organisation, the way the team support each other, and the fact that the health and safety of employees and customers is paramount.
“I feel so safe in this new job. The training has been fantastic, and I’ve excelled in areas that I never thought I would. This has given me a fantastic first impression of the company and the culture. I also really appreciate the sense of community that they have created. Even when I’m driving the bus alone, I’m in constant contact with the control room and get safety alerts and news flashes to keep me informed. We have a private Facebook Group for employees, so we can chat to each other, swap shifts and share tips. It’s all simple stuff I suppose, but when a company gets the basics right, everything else just works.”
Susanne signed up to Working Win earlier this year. Supported by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department for Work and Pensions; Working Win is a free trial testing a new type of support for people with mental or physical health conditions that are affecting their work or their ability to find a job.
According to the Office of National Statistics, an estimated 137.3 million working days were lost due to sickness or injury in the UK in 2016. Of those, 15.8 million days, 11%, were related to illnesses such as stress and anxiety. We know that mental ill health can affect anyone at any time, and this is what happened with Neil, who found himself signed off from work by his GP.
“I was off work for six-months and had been trying to get into IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) but hadn’t had any success. After seeing my GP, they suggested that I could try this thing called Working Win. I hadn’t heard about it before then, but the GP chatted to me about what the trial is and how it might help. I looked online, filled out the form and someone got back to me straight away. It was really easy to be honest.
“When I came for my first appointment I met with the lady and we just had a chat about my situation, why I was off work, what I was looking for and how the trial might be able to help. After that, it was just a few questions and then I went through the randomisation process.
“The first step for me to get back to work was to write up an action plan. I set up some SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and Timely) goals so that I knew what it was I wanted, and how I was going to get there. I really wanted to get help from IAPT, but I’m not good on computers and IAPT is all online, so that was a big barrier for me. Once I had some support to get on to the service it wasn’t long before I started a six-week course with them.
“One of my main goals was to get back to work. I had been off for six-months and had already tried to return to work twice but was unsuccessful. After two months of trying to get help with it I finally got the support I needed to have a chat with my employer, and presented them with some suggested options that would help. They took to it really well and we agreed on a phased return with some other adjustments that would make work much better for me.
“I had tried a phased return previously, and was doing four hours a day, but what I didn’t realise is that I wasn’t supposed to get all of my regular work done in that time! I was pushing myself too hard. After having a conversation about it, my boss said “I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work!” I was only expected to do what I could do in that time, and after realising that it made things a whole lot easier!
“Once I had a plan to identify the things that I could do, and the things my manager could do, it made it much simpler to work together. Some things were really simple; like taking 5 minutes out if I needed to. Other things, like having to place orders online – well I didn’t have a problem doing it, but I didn’t have the training that I needed. Now I’ve got that training I feel happy and comfortable to do my job.
“I feel really happy to have returned to work, it’s made a big difference to my health and my confidence. I’ve even just been awarded employee of the month!”
Neil signed up to Working Win earlier this year. Supported by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department for Work and Pensions; Working Win is a free trial testing a new type of support for people with mental or physical health conditions that are affecting their work or their ability to find a job.
“After everything that had happened, when I landed my dream volunteer role I was ecstatic. I never would have had the confidence to apply if it hadn’t been for Working Win.”
Michelle was referred to Working Win through IAPT after struggling with anxiety and depression for six years following an abusive relationship. After ending the relationship, Michelle moved up to South Yorkshire with her daughter and was finding it difficult to get back into work.
“After working through my feelings with a therapist, we decided that I was at the stage where returning to work would be beneficial and achievable. I knew I couldn’t go back into the financial sector and I wanted to something I loved and enjoyed – that was arts and crafts.
“I worked with my coach on my CV to highlight my personal qualities along with all the work I had done in Maltby on craft projects. My coach also helped me create a disclosure letter explaining why I had been out of work for a while.”
Michelle began to look at online vacancies and applied for a volunteering position at ArtWork – an organisation that works with people with learning disabilities.
“Even after disclosing my past they still wanted to take me on board and thought I would be an ideal person to volunteer for the organisation. I was feeling on top of the world. To really top things off I was successful for a full-time role in administration!
“Over the sessions with my coach my attitude started to change, and I was feeling positive about the future. I finally was ready to put my past behind me and look towards the future.”
Michelle signed up to Working Win earlier this year. Supported by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department for Work and Pensions; Working Win is a free trial testing a new type of support for people with mental or physical health conditions that are affecting their work or their ability to find a job.
Fifty-nine year old Graham’s journey back into the workplace after a period of ill health has not been easy, but it is one that many people will relate to and it raises awareness of the role we can all play in supporting others. It sounds simple but asking a fellow colleague or an employee how they are after a crisis and what you can do to help, could make all the difference.
Graham has over 35 years’ retail experience. What he doesn’t know about customer service and shop work, probably isn’t worth knowing. But after a number of health-related knock backs and a serious incident on the job, that still haunts him, he has found it hard to get back into the workplace. Recently, Graham has been accessing support with the aim of finding a job that he can be proud of again. When we met Graham to talk about his career history to date, it was obvious that he was still processing what had happened to him whilst managing a shop in Rotherham town centre five years prior.
“It was like any other day when I opened up the shop that morning. I could have done it with my eyes closed by then. I’d been doing it for over a year. But this day was different. It was a life changing moment for me and one that I’ll never forget.
“When the chap first came into the store, I didn’t think anything of it. He had an old watch that he needed repairing, so I took it, cleaned it, changed the battery and it was as good as new. His behaviour changed then. He hung around the store, he hadn’t paid for the work and he started bothering the other customers. I tried to placate the situation at first, but it escalated as he became more aggressive with me and other people that were coming into the shop.
“Things got physical, and before I knew it, I was inside the small shop trying to prevent the man from hurting me or anyone else, whilst waiting for the police to arrive. Neighbouring store owners came out to support me but there was a long wait for back-up and I was being assaulted and threatened the whole time. I’ll never forget it. When it was finally over, I rang my boss to tell him what had happened, he said, cash up and go home. I remember clearly that my whole body was shaking from the adrenaline. I couldn’t hold the phone properly.”
That night, the reality of what had happened to Graham really hit home. He was in shock and was fearful about the repercussions. This was the moment that his relationship with his employer took a downward turn. A training manager called to ask him if he was ok, but that was the beginning and the end of the support he received from his workplace. Some months later, when Graham was back working at another store, he raised this with his area manager, explaining that he had felt let down and left to deal with the aftermath alone. The response? “You should have asked for help”.
Graham’s story is not uncommon. Many people who experience a traumatic situation in the workplace, and who do not receive the appropriate level of support, suffer long term effects. It can lead to a breakdown in relationships between employers and employees and aggravate mental health conditions, which impact on a person’s ability to seek out and stay in work. Graham is finally talking about and dealing with the emotions that have haunted him since that day. With support and guidance from trained health professionals Graham has been able to look to the future, rebuilding his self-worth and applying for jobs again.
“When you have always worked, and you stop working, it takes a toll. You stop valuing yourself. You stop feeling motivated. When you feel let down by an employer, you stop trusting in people. It hasn’t been easy, but I have been working hard to remember the positives again. I know what I am good at and I can vocalise it. I am excellent at customer service. I am good with people. I am honest and hardworking. I always stand up for what is right. These are all qualities that had somehow become buried underneath the depression I was experiencing, and now I’ve managed to grab back hold of them and pull them up to the surface. It has meant that I have the confidence to apply for jobs again and speak to employers. This is worlds apart from where I was two years ago.”
Graham is now actively seeking employment, he has started writing a book and is volunteering as a storyteller at a children’s workshop.
Graham signed up to Working Win earlier this year. Supported by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department for Work and Pensions; Working Win is a free trial testing a new type of support for people with mental or physical health conditions that are affecting their work or their ability to find a job.
Mental illness can affect anyone at any time. 1 in 4 people experience some form of mental illness and a new study from Mind suggests that around 1 in 2 of us will suffer from mental ill health in our lifetime. It is one illness that does not discriminate.
34 year-old Paul from Barnsley discovered just this, whilst working in his last job at a leading call centre. Confident, charismatic and funny – Paul definitely doesn’t fit the stereotype of someone who suffers from anxiety and depression.
“I was a great employee, top 5% in the company actually. I used to be the person that they would bring the CEOs and top executives to speak to about ‘life on the floor’. I earned a good salary and I was well liked around the business, I had lots of friends there.
“One day I took a call from a customer who didn’t have the right information they needed and threatened to kill themselves. I didn’t have the support I needed – I didn’t have the training to deal with something like that. After that it just snowballed. It wasn’t just at work, it had a knock on effect with my family and home life too.
“The negativity had created a mental block which stopped me from seeing reality as it was. I didn’t want to leave the house. I had anxiety over meeting people that destroyed my social life. Then one day, I don’t know what happened, but I tried to commit suicide. I just stepped out into traffic.
“My work weren’t able to support me going into a different role and they didn’t have any system to reallocate people. They gave me two options, either I get on the phone in the next hour or quit. So I rang my wife and she just said “your health comes first Paul”.
“It was hard but I had to quit and it was a shock to the system. We had a family support worker who assessed my situation and she referred me to the job centre, after explaining my situation I managed to get on ESA.
“I went to my GP and he referred me to the crisis team – I started to see a psychologist once a week and it really helped. It reigned in my thoughts. I attended IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) for six weeks. They offered me CBT and it worked so well that they wanted to use my story as a case study.
“Attending group session and sharing my experiences with others was really important, to know that I wasn’t alone. Nobody mentions that social interaction is so important to the recovery process.
“One thing led to another and I started volunteering in the community shop as a community leader. One day Paul – the Working Win manager in Barnsley – came in and started talking about the health-led employment trial. We spoke about my situation and he offered to set up an initial appointment.
“The first meeting was really difficult. The thought of getting back in to work – meeting new people – it was allot to deal with. I was shaking and on the brink of tears. But I got through it, and Mike the specialist who met me really helped.
“Now I’m working and I couldn’t be happier. I work as a customer care assistant with a high street fast food retailer in Barnsley. I get to work with people that I really like and they love me there, I’m already being promoted to customer experience leader.
“Now I’m saving up to take my wife and four kids on holiday. It will be the first time we’ve been abroad. It’s great to have something to look forward to, to feel positive and love every day.
Paul signed up to take part in Working Win. Supported by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department for Work and Pensions; Working Win is a free trial testing a new type of support for people with mental or physical health conditions that are affecting their work or their ability to find a job.