ON FRIDAY 28 June – Employability Day, a Cardiff man who couldn’t work for three years due to illness has praised a local employment support project for helping him get a full-time job.
58-year-old Darren Smith has worked in a range of jobs over the course of his working life including in the billing department of British Gas and at a petrol station in the city. He worked for a local company that made and sold electronic locks and also as a helpdesk technician for Sky, before falling ill in 2015 and becoming housebound for three years. But with support from The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus programme and a local charity, Darren was able to overcome the effects of his illness and find a job that he loves.
“I became ill and was housebound for three years. As I started recovering and feeling well enough to return to work, I signed up for Universal Credit and got put in touch with Remploy who then passed me on to Employment Plus and that’s when I met Faye Williams, my Employment Development Co-ordinator” said Darren.
And it was Faye Williams from the Salvation Army’s Employment Plus project who gave Darren the confidence to return back to work.
“Right from the start, Faye has given me a lot of encouragement and helped me with my search for work. Her support and belief in me gave me a boost which really helped me with my confidence after spending three years out of the job market and being housebound due to my ill-health” he added.
Faye helped Darren find a work placement at the Pontcanna-based charity, Pedal Power Faye and Pedal Power also supported Darren back into a gradual work pattern after his period of illness as he explains:
“Going back into employment was a big move as well as a big challenge for me and physically - after being housebound for so long, it was really hard, but Faye organised a work placement for me here at Pedal Power and after my first day I had to spend the day after in bed because I was so tired. But Faye and Pedal Power worked with me and put me on a phased start, so I was volunteering here for two days a week, but not back-to-back days because I obviously needed to recover. Everything was done at a pace that worked for me, for Employment Plus and for Pedal Power.
Darren is now working full-time at Pedal Power as a bikeshop supervisor – a job he loves, and he has a positive outlook on life again.
“I beat nine other people at interview to get the job. I love this job and I feel a lot better now and have fully recovered physically after my illness. Faye supported me during the interview process and she believed in me and gave me the confidence to go for the role. When I rang her to say I’d got the job, I think she was more excited than I was. It’s thanks to Faye - who worked with me and supported me at my pace while I recovered from my illness, that I’m much happier than I was, have more energy and a positive outlook on life.”
In Splott, Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty marked Employability Day 2019 by visiting the Employment Plus programme at The Salvation Army on Walker Road. The Welsh Government’s Head of Strategic Engagement, Employability and Skills Edwyn Williams also called in to see the service in action.
They met Salvation Army staff including Major George Baker, Divisional Commander for South & Mid Wales division and Employment Plus’s UK deputy director, Nick Read. Stephen Doughty welcomed the work done by Employment Plus, and said:
“I believe it’s important that we are all able to make our own contribution to society and realise our full potential in life. Being unemployed can be soul-destroying experience and trying to find work is often difficult especially for people who lack confidence or are new to the employment market.
“I commend The Salvation Army and its Employment Plus programme for the work it does to help people in my constituency to develop the skills and confidence they need to get themselves into work.”
Commenting on Employment Plus, Edwyn Williams said: “I was proud to be able to visit The Salvation Army today to see the excellent work done by the Employment Plus programme to support individuals in the community to gain the confidence, skills and self-belief they need to find work”.
Employment Plus is a service run from The Salvation Army’s Cardiff East corps for local people at its hall on Walker Road. People who visit Employment Plus can get help with tasks such as writing a CV, filling in application forms and using computers to search for work. During his visit, Mr Doughty and Mr Williams heard concerns about the future of the European Social Fund after 2020, which funds many of The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus programmes around the UK.
Nick Read, the Salvation Army’s Employment Plus deputy director said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Stephen Doughty MP to see the work we do at the Employment Plus programme at The Salvation Army in Splott today. “We spoke about the support we provide for people from this area to get into work and the importance of being able to give them the right kind of support they need when they need it.
“But not everybody is able to get this support to get into work and this is why investment in skills training must be a priority for government at all levels.” Employability Days is a UK-wide celebration on Friday 28 June for organisations that help people into work.