Support into sustainable employment

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Martin suffered from a persistent physical condition which made working difficult, however, unable to get timely medical support paired with a long period of work absence, this untreated physical condition led to insomnia, a stutter and eventually the beginnings of depression.  His therapist referred him to Twining and Martin met his Employment Specialist, Chantelle.  Martin thought the service was going to be about just getting a job – any job – but Chantelle soon demonstrated that Twining supports people into sustainable employment that is right for them, not just now, but into the future.  Martin is now in a new career and still meets with Chantelle whilst he settles into this new role.  Here Martin tells us his story in his own words…

I was signed off work on long term sickness in September 2021.  I had a serious bladder condition which meant I needed to use the toilet more than normal, but my previous employer showed no understanding for my condition at all.  They treated me so badly. I couldn’t hold my water, but my boss just told me to wear a nappy.  I was completely unsupported and was left with no choice but to leave.

I desperately needed a doctor’s appointment to try and get some medical help for my condition – but with all the doctors strikes – I couldn’t get an appointment with the right specialist until a year later.  I had also developed insomnia and couldn’t think properly without sleep.  I then ended up developing a stutter too.  So, I had my bladder, insomnia and a stutter to deal with.

It turned out that I needed an operation to fix my bladder problems and I was told the operation would only take 30 minutes, but it ended up taking six months to get booked in.  Whilst I waited for the operation my life was on hold.  It felt like other people’s lives were moving on, whilst mine was at a standstill.  I also felt so embarrassed telling anyone about it, so I had limited chance to talk things over.

I was fortunate that I had money in the bank – but I had been saving for a house – so I didn’t want to dip into it.  I kept thinking and hoping an appointment would emerge.  In the back of my mind, I was also worried that the bladder problem wasn’t fixable; so, if I did spend the money I’d been saving, and they couldn’t fix it, that would be even worse.

The doctors admitted they had failed me, because I’d spent so much time waiting for an appointment and the long wait had caused everything else to deteriorate.  However, it also meant that the bladder issue had eventually healed itself.

The doctors ended up putting me in touch with a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist to help with the depression that was coming on too.  Those days and weeks just felt like a blur.

About halfway through the process with the therapist, they suggested Twining Enterprise.  I just wanted to feel ‘normal’ again – to feel like me.  I felt that if I could just get a job it would help me to feel normal again.  The therapist recommended Twining because they knew Twining Employment Specialists focus on finding sustainable employment – not just finding an income.

Before finding Twining I was just sending out an old CV – one I wrote back in 2001!  I didn’t have a clue what I was meant to include.  Everyone uses ChatGPT now too and employers guard against this, so I didn’t want to rely on this to help me.

So, I arranged to meet my Twining Employment Specialist Chantelle, so I could explain my situation and my hopes for employment.  I told her I’d applied to several jobs – but they were all quite different jobs – as I was just applying to them for the sake of it.  She explained she could just find work for the sake of work – but if I wanted to find a career then she could also help me to do that.  And that’s what I really wanted.  I wanted to find a career.  I didn’t want a job – I wanted a career.  I wanted to do something where I’m going to be somewhere for several years.

Chantelle knew I wanted a career even before even I knew about wanting a career!  At first I just thought I needed a job – any job - to feel normal again – but she really saw me and knew deep down I wanted more than that.

I quite quickly got a job interview but wasn’t successful.  However, I think I’d started to feel a bit negative again, and possibly didn’t help myself during the interview.  Chantelle even helped me to process that and realise how I may have self-sabotaged.

I then applied for another job and got another interview.  Despite getting an interview, Chantelle still offered to help me improve on my existing CV; she wanted me to be OK in the future.  She was thinking ahead for me.  She said I could use that template for the future when I wanted a better job.

She even suggested a jobs fair – I’d never thought of one before.  It was such a good idea, although I didn’t think they were for me at first.  But she said there was no pressure – so I never felt any pressure – she encouraged but didn’t pressure me.  That was a really important part of what she did for me.

We also talked lots about disclosing my medical history.  She gave me ideas about how to cover the time.  She suggested I could just say that “I had medical time”.  She explained to me that it’s not a legal requirement to tell employers absolutely every medical detail.  She made me realise there was a new way of conveying information.  She also made me think about whether I would even want to work for an employer that didn’t want to know about my medical history.

Chantelle also advised that I could have support from Twining once I started in the job.  This felt like a real safety net if my medical problem flared up again; it would give me someone to speak to who would help me with who I should speak to at work and how I should generally deal with things.  So, I really felt Chantelle was there for me.  I really felt that she cared for me.  She was looking into the future for me – if a medical problem flared up, or if I wanted to get a better job -she was thinking ahead for me and helping me with that.

I am now working for my local council in a data role – it suits me perfectly as I am a bit of a geek!  I like working with spreadsheets and checking things, so I’m doing what I’m good at.

My weekly chats with Chantelle - whilst I bed into this new role - have been really good too.  I can still talk to her about any worries I have – which really helps.  However, this council is incredibly people focused so I’ve been really lucky.  Chantelle has asked me what I want to do in terms of a meeting frequency going forward - but she isn’t dictating the timeframe - I am.  That’s another thing that really makes me feel like she cares.

In the beginning it was a real struggle asking for help.  For the first week being out of work, I didn’t want to ask for help, then after a week I decided to contact Twining. I didn’t have much faith in the service at first, but that first person that answered the phone gave me such faith in the service – they made me give it a try.  After the first meeting with Chantelle, I decided to start looking for work. I got the motivation in my brain to start looking for work.  There was no pressure, but it worked.  Chantelle was so encouraging.  She even remembered to ask me about my family.  I felt she just cared.  There was nothing fake about her.  She just felt really genuine.  I felt she genuinely had my best interests at heart.  There were no expectations from her.  Initially I’d been worried that an employment specialist would just want me to get a job and then leave - “next” – but I never once felt like that with Chantelle.  I really felt like she just cared for me.

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