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Stefano joined the Work Health Programme in September 2020 with the intention of securing work as soon as possible. Following a complication during an operation, he was left with a sensory impairment and was forced to leave his job given the length of time required for recovery. This during extended periods of lockdown presented a difficult period in Stefano’s life.

“Stefano’s tenacious approach and focus on his job search has stood him in really good stead given the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented,” says Alice Lorge, his Change Coach at Activate Learning.

“Intensive job search support was provided as well as the development of bespoke applications. It is a pleasure working with Stefano as his optimistic attitude and practical approach is admirable. He has a real knack for brightening my day too with his positive outlook”.

Enabling retraining opportunities

With a background in premium retail, representing luxury brands in various sales roles, Stefano was keen on transferring his skills to a sector in which he can build relationships with others and help them improve their lives. He has therefore explored opportunities within learning support, the job centres and care sector.

Stefano attended the Care Sector-based Work Academy programme, run in partnership between Activate Learning and Oxfordshire County Council and has shared positive feedback highlighting the interesting topics covered including Mental Health and Physiology. Through the partnership between Activate Learning and Seetec Pluss, a Support Worker vacancy was identified, and Stefano received assistance with his application to submit his details. He received excellent feedback following his interviews and was in the final screening stages with an employer in the care sector who deliver support for vulnerable clients.

Back to doing what he loves

Whilst waiting for this new role, Stefano watched the retail industry gradually begin to open up again as lockdown eased. He was despondent when he first joined the WHP and was concerned that he may have to leave his career in retail. But achieving new transferrable skills proved to Stefano how adaptable he is and gave him the courage to apply back to his desired career path. He worked on building his confidence and his resilience whilst on the WHP showed a new determination to get back into retail. His change coach supported Stefano in identifying these new strengths and he hopes that by sharing his story he can inspire others who may be struggling.

The programme will continue to support Stefano as he settles into his new role. In-work support is a key element of the Work and Health Programme and includes covering first month expenses and providing regular check-ins to support any adjustments that may be required.

Stefano had the following comments to add about the programme:
“My personal experience with the Work and Health Programme has been positive so far. Me and Alice got on very well and working together we were able to achieve results even in a difficult time like the one we are living now.

“In fact, in December 2020, I got some retail work at Bicester Village that unfortunately ended because of the pandemic and in February/March 2021. Overall a good experience also enriched by some courses Alice suggested and I took part in. Very interesting and formative experiences.”

The Work and Health Programme is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and the European Social Fund.

Area: Oxfordshire

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