“I moved from Wolverhampton to Taunton due to personal circumstances in March 2021 and found myself homeless. I originally intended to travel on to see my family in Devon.
“I found myself in the village of Bishops Lydeard, just outside Taunton, and was going to sleep in nearby woods. A local couple were walking their dog, saw me and asked me if I needed any help. I said, ‘yes, I do need help!’ They gave me sleeping bag, food and clothes and paid for a room in the Travelodge for a night. They then contacted the council and started the process for me to get temporary accommodation with the YMCA.
“I was already on Universal Credit and my claim was transferred to the Taunton Job centre. I started having appointments with my Work Coach, Paul, in June 2021. Paul quickly recognised that I needed support to get back into work and recommended the Work and Health programme which I agreed to.
“My Employment Coach, Loretta, saw that I had excellent experience as a cleaner, working for various organisations including high security companies and told me there was a lot of demand for my profile in the Taunton area. I told Loretta that I wanted to start working as soon as possible.
“She immediately identified that I needed Right to Work documents as the only ID I had with me was a citizens card and a bank account. She ordered a priority birth certificate and we worked with the Jobcentre and the YMCA to get this paperwork together very quickly. I also had a Teams meeting with Loretta and Kevin from the Employer Services team, who told me about several jobs open with employers he was speaking with, and he put me forward for those.
“I felt really good about everything as I felt I had plenty of support. We had face-to-face meetings to look at jobs together and we made applications. Within weeks, I was contacted and offered a job with Spectrum Clean and am now cleaning a pub in Taunton five mornings a week. I also have the possibility of another job which would be in the evenings.
“I now feel great and still can’t believe that I found a vacancy with my Employment Coach, applied for it in the afternoon and had a text a few hours later inviting me for an interview the following morning. Within ten minutes of sitting in the interview, she asked me to start the next morning! I still can’t believe it, blimey!
“As my temporary accommodation is a little way out of town, Loretta has organised to get a pushbike, helmet, lights and a lock to make it easier to commute to my jobs. Seetec Pluss will also give me ongoing support whilst I am working.
“The Work and Health programme is good for giving all the help, support, information and advice and ongoing support now I’m working.”
The Work and Health programme is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and the European Social Fund.