Prior to the pandemic, 59-year-old Eddie had worked in construction for the last 20 years. When COVID-19 forced his site to close, he found himself out of work, and like many in his situation at this time, this was extremely unfamiliar territory for him.
“It was hard for me to take; I like the purpose of getting up early, going to work and coming home feeling exhausted. Whilst I was looking for work, I was going out for walks for about 2 hours every day, but there’s only so much walking you can do! I was out of work for 14 months in total and was beginning to feel like I’d retired.
“I was referred to JETS in April 2021 where I worked with my Employment Advisor, Lucy. She really gave me her full support and encouragement which was so nice to have. I suffered with anxiety in interview situations, so she put me forward for a course which would help me understand my anxieties and help me manage them.
“Lucy really has been a great help to me. She supported me to re-work my CV and even funded a tablet to help me with my job applications, as my phone wasn’t quite doing the job well enough.
“I was invited to an interview for a job in construction, but I didn’t get my hopes up as I’d gone to plenty of interviews previously and never got any further. I felt as though my age was against me. But when I was offered the job, I felt a mixture of relief, elation and excitement! But mostly relief, that I wasn’t going to be wasted for another 8 years, before I’d need to stop working.
“Lucy then also funded some new work clothes for me, so that I felt fully prepared and confident as I started my new role. I really do owe her a lot.
“Being back in work has given me structure; I go to bed at a certain time, and I wake up at a certain time. I’ve got purpose again. I’d say to anyone that is struggling to get back into work to never give up. It’s all about timing and just going for it.”
The Work and Health JETS programme is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and the European Social Fund. Stock image used.