Choice Support Employment Specialist Jean Frampton says: "No matter how varied a person’s needs, the one thing we have in common is the desire to work, and to play an active part in our local community."
As employment specialists at Choice Support, my colleagues and I work with people who have a learning disability or an enduring mental health condition. No matter how varied a person’s needs, the one thing we have in common is the desire to work, and to play an active part in our local community. Our team assists in making this a reality and supports individuals and their employer during their first year of employment.
The people we support set the pace and direction of what we do. In the first lockdown, we focussed on getting interview-ready so that people could apply for roles once lockdown was over.
Sessions began by discussing and practising generic interview questions and looking at what the interviewer wants to know. We then slowly build up the answers and any information that people should include. Moving on, we look at focussed questions that specifically relate to the role. We empower people to feel confident in taking an active role in the interview. This includes encouraging people to ask for questions to be repeated or explained, and to ask for thinking time to collect their thoughts and to ask their own questions.
To prepare for the interview, we go through where people will sit, what they might wear and any paperwork needed. These online sessions and mock interviews support people to feel happy about having their interview, especially as they are in their own secure environment. The outcome of people’s hard work during
this pandemic, is that many have been offered a role or have already started working. These roles include; working for the civil service, working in a factory, and an engagement assistant for a charity. Everyone loves their new roles. Some are enjoying being back in employment, for others it’s their first role and they are enjoying going off to work as many of their family and friends do. People enjoy being part of a team, helping others, being valued, and using their skills and experience. For some, it’s simply the fact that they get paid to do something they enjoy.
I’ve been an Employment Specialist for a number of years now and I really enjoy it. When I review the things that I have helped people to achieve, I’m reminded of my former manager. He never asked whether we had met our monthly targets, instead he would simply ask: “How many lives have we helped change this month?” I am proud to say that the Employment Team has continued to support people into employment, even during a pandemic.