Achieving my goal to return to work!

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Mark had struggled with his mental health his whole life, finding himself in and out of secondary mental health care, sometimes unexpectedly.  This made building a career particularly challenging.  Mark was first referred to Twining Enterprise in 2022 and most recently again in 2024 when he worked with Sanjay, who successfully supported him into a job in the retail sector, an industry he felt comfortable with.  Mark wrote his story for us to share his experience in his own words…

Having had depression during childhood, I experienced a severe period of low mood at 18. I was admitted to Barnet Mental Health Unit and treated for my condition. I later moved to Northgate Young Peoples Clinic in Edgware and was diagnosed with Clinical Depression.

I had all types of therapy and support at Northgate and left there after 6 months of the ‘life university’ believing that my illness had been treated and hopefully resolved.

Five years later in 1993 after some erratic, and unlike me, behaviour, I was shocked to be sectioned and in Barnet Mental Health Unit again. On this occasion I was diagnosed with Manic Depression, or its name now, Bipolar.

I have struggled at times during my career to juggle my job with my mental health. I have been self-employed, owned a couple of small businesses with employees, and worked as an employee for some large companies at various stages in my life.

In 2019 after a period of mood swings, I found myself, very much unexpectedly, sectioned again for high behaviour. I then found myself on an exceptionally low mood spiral, which prevented me from undertaking work.

My goal during recovery was always to return to work. The sense of belonging, the self-confidence it gives you, and achievement you feel among many other things, including financial independence, are great for my overall health.

My Mental Health Team at Barnet first made me aware of Twining Enterprise and I first participated in the return-to-work help they offer in 2022. I really enjoyed the interaction with my Employment Specialist. I was not well enough to complete my goal due to my health at that stage. The experience was very encouraging for me though.

In early 2024 I realised that my health had improved sufficiently to acheive my goal of returning to work on a part-time basis. I visited the Job Centre to inform them of my plans and on this occasion, they recommended me to Twining Enterprise.

Sanjay, my Twining Enterprise Employment Specialist contacted me very promptly and we first met at Barnet Library. I was quite nervous, but it was all very relaxing, and we really got on very well. I told him my work goals and we reviewed my CV.

My work plan was to return to retail which I worked in when I left school. Hopefully as a part time supermarket assistant and delivery driver. Sanjay had experience in retail and was extremely helpful with his knowledge and advice. I applied for various vacancies at different large well-known supermarkets at first without success.

The rejection is obviously tough but with Sanjay’s assistance I persevered. I followed up any rejections to ask why, which really helps and gives answers to your doubts and questions.

After a couple of months of applying I was given an interview with a large well-known supermarket. Sanjay gave me a mock interview the day before the real one which was immensely helpful and completely prepared me for my first interview in many years.

My interview with my possible future employer went very well and I was offered a part-time job at the close of the interview for the position I was hoping for.

I spoke to Sanjay after, for a debrief and it was a great feeling to share with him that I have been offered a job. He also assured me that the support will continue when required during my employment's early days.

I started my role last month and although slightly nervous at first, I am delighted to be back in the workforce and having the support of colleagues in a well-run retail partnership. My goal to return to work has been achieved and I now can look to the future. I hope that my new position helps me to stay well and live a great work life balance.

My experience with Twining Enterprise has been a very helpful journey. I realise that you need to be well enough to engage with your Employment Specialist and therefore well enough to start working. When you are ready your Employment Specialist will greatly assist you with your journey back to work and give you the help and support required to maintain your work and life.

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