It’s Gemma’s birthday! And she has every reason to celebrate; not only has she just turned 27, she’s also about to start a new job as a Healthcare Assistant!
Gemma has dyslexia and it affects her memory; “I always have to make notes as I go. Once I get to the bottom of an application form, I have to go back to the top to make sure I completed it, because often I forget what I have already written and I worry that I’ll get it wrong” she told us.
And that’s where the Work And Health Programme has helped.
The Work and Health Programme (WHP) is delivered by Seetec Pluss, in the North West, on behalf of Ingeus. Gemma, from Reddish, was referred to the programme by her local Job Centre Plus.
“I hadn’t actually heard of WHP before,” she says. “But I’ve now realised how really helpful it is for people who have learning difficulties and need that extra little bit of support.”
Gemma’s Employment Adviser, Michael, worked with her to find her ideal job, nursing: “When I first met Gemma, she explained all about her previous frustrations,” he told us. “We chatted and looked at her transferable skills and came up with a plan.”
“She knew what she wanted to do. She wanted to work in the care industry,” Michael continues, “but she hadn’t received any effective support in the past and was a bit doubtful whether we could help.”
It wasn’t long before Gemma’s impression of the Work and Health Programme changed and her confidence in the support on offer grew.
“I had been doing everything by video link, which doesn’t really work for me, but then I started meeting with Michael in person and it made a huge difference.
“We looked at my CV and he showed me how to update it, he helped with job searches, and with completing application forms. With my memory being so bad, it was great to know I had someone who would double-check everything with me.
“So much has changed since I was last looking for a job,” she admits.
Gemma’s previous work experience was in the care sector, and she had been helping out with her parents who both work at home providing overnight respite care for children with additional needs.
“The brilliant thing about Michael, and WHP, is that I had access to support whenever I needed it. I had a face-to-face appointment every couple of weeks in the office at Kingsgate, but then if I needed anything in between appointments, I knew I could just pick up the phone and chat to him.”
With Michael’s help, Gemma secured a training programme with the NHS, administered by Trafford College.
“I would have struggled to complete the application form, deal with the paperwork and upload my application,” she says, “but I knew that Michael wouldn’t mind me asking for help.
“A lot of it was about having someone to double-check things for me and reassure that I was doing it correctly. I worried about maybe ticking a wrong box or that I’d do something wrong – but I knew that I could always go back to Michael even if I’d only just seen him the previous week.”
Gemma enjoyed her time on a SWAP (Sector-Based Work Academy Programme) with the NHS: “I was due to do a four-week placement and ended up doing six,” she enthuses. And now she’s about to start a new role in September 2023; “I’ll be working on the wards, assisting nurses and doctors.
“Mostly my role will include personal care, working on the elderly wards. I’ll be paired with a ‘buddy’ to begin with so they can show me how to do everything and then once I feel I’m ready they’ll move me up. The support they’re offering is great.
“But the best thing of all is that I’m still with WHP which means that Michael will continue to support me for the first six months of the role!”
Michael says he’s seen a big change in Gemma too: “In contrast to when we first met, she is so much more confident and I do think that’s down to her success on the SWAP and now her move into work. It could also be that we seem to have been the first organisation who supported her completely and therefore one she could rely on.”
And Gemma agrees: “I feel a lot better because I hadn’t known how to get into the NHS. I’d tried but not been lucky. Then with Michael’s help I enrolled for the SWAP and it was like ‘right, I’m on course now’, it’s great!
I would definitely recommend WHP to others. If it was simply just a fortnightly meeting, I might not be so impressed, but the fact that I can call anytime and that the support continues once you get a job, is brilliant. I’d say it’s really good for people like me who need that little bit of extra help – so if you know someone who’s struggling with things like the internet and job searching, for instance, WHP can definitely offer that extra support. Everyone has been great. I can’t fault them!
And so what’s the goal for Gemma, now?
“Just to stay with the NHS and work my way up through the ranks.”
We wish her the best of luck – and we’ll be there to support her as she takes her next steps. Oh, and….. Happy Birthday, Gemma! 🎈
In the North West, Seetec Pluss delivers the Work And Health programme on behalf of Ingeus
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