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.
“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.”
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.
Anji remains in a job she loves by building her confidence to speak to employers about her health condition.
Anji lives in Cudworth, Doncaster and has Fibromyalgia. She found out about Working Win from Scawsby Health Centre when she received a text message about the service. The message came at just the right time for Anji as she was struggling in her work role due to her health condition.
Anji trained as a teacher and was a service manager for a local authority. She is now an Advisory Teacher supporting mainstream schools with special educational needs. Anji’s job involved car journeys between schools in the cluster she was managing. The job role however changed, and more driving was involved in the new role, which was something Anji knew was going to cause her pain, discomfort and fatigue due to her health condition.
Anji felt very anxious about the effect the additional driving would have on her ability to do her job and was worried that this may cause her to have to leave the job she loved. It was at this point when she received the text message from her local health centre about Working Win - she got in touch and was soon meeting with Paul, her Work and Enterprise Coach.
Anji explained that her fear and anxiety of losing her job was a barrier to moving forward, but her Work Coach Paul helped her to overcome this:
“Paul listened to my fears. He helped to identify the skills that I have and what I might do if I didn’t remain in my current role - my anxiety levels dropped when I realised, I had a plan B!”
Paul also supported Anji to have the confidence to have conversations with her line managers about her condition and how adjustments to her job role would help her to manage her condition and do her job effectively.
“When your body won’t do what you want it to do it really knocks your confidence and self-esteem. One of the things that Paul taught me to do was not to be afraid to ask for reasonable adjustments. It was about Paul empowering me to advocate for myself - I’ve got the confidence to do that now and didn’t have that before Working Win.”
Anji spoke with her line managers about what she needed for her health condition and explained that staying in work was a priority. Anji found that they were very supportive, which resulted in reduced traveling and also appointments with an occupational health therapist to access equipment to make the job easier for her.
“I was really clear with my line managers about what I need for my health condition and that this was about me staying in work - and my managers were amazing about it!”
Paul also referred Anji to his Working Win colleague, Nisa who is a Health and Wellbeing Coach. Nisa supported Anji to proactively manage stress and anxiety and to act straight away, rather than letting things escalate.
Anji feels very happy and positive in her current job role and has realised that she needs to be a busy person.
“I’m still in a job that I love, and I am a much calmer person about my health – I’m not as frustrated with it as I was. I’m beginning to look for the things that I can do, rather than the things I can’t do.”
Anji is looking forward to retirement, but wants to make sure that it’s the right time for her and that her mind and body are in the best possible condition, so that she can have an active retirement doing the things she loves, such as voluntary work, yoga, horse riding and cold water swimming.
“Before Working Win I thought I’d have to retire at 60, now I’m thinking I might want to work longer, I’m not counting down the days to retirement anymore!”
Gary and his work coach, Mike worked together to overcome challenges
Gary, from Wombwell, Barnsley is an assembly line worker at Flexseal, a specialist manufacturer and distributor to the civils and drainage, plumbing and water management sectors, based in Barnsley and was referred to Working Win by Mapplewell Mental Health Team.
Gary and his work coach, Mike, worked together to look at some of the challenges Gary was experiencing at the time. The first area was Gary’s finances – Gary had fallen behind with his rent and was facing the possibility of eviction. Mike helped Gary to set up a payment plan, which he was able to stick to and meant that he could stay in his home.
Another key area that Mike helped Gary with was communicating with his employer, Flexseal. Gary initially found it difficult to talk about his mental health, but with support from Mike was able to express himself better and have those conversations with his employer. Mike also helped to develop a working pattern that was right for Gary, and supported his phased return to work.
“When I was in my darkest moment, Working Win understood where I was coming from and put it across to my employer, so that they understood more about what I was going through – I wouldn’t have been able to do that.”
Gary speaks very positively about his employer and the ongoing support that he receives from them:
“It’s like a family organisation with close-knit work colleagues and they go out of their way to help you. They are a really good company to work for - Flexseal really do stand out and I’d like to think that I’ll retire there.”
Mike also referred Gary to Barnsley IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) services for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and to support Gary’s wellbeing. Working Win secured Gary free membership at Barnsley Metrodome - this included a personal fitness plan, which resulted in Gary losing weight.
Gary feels vey proud of where he is at the moment – he is still at work, enjoying it and feels fairly stable. He has worked with Mike to build up his confidence, and one of his future goals is to help people with mental health problems and talk to colleagues at work who may be struggling:
“I’m proud of being where I am today. I don’t think about suicide anymore. Knowing that I’ve got people around me as well that I can speak to at any time is absolutely fantastic.”