Like many people in their thirties, Jason was renting a house in Bristol and had made good friends with his housemates. But life took a turn for the worse when his landlord served them an eviction notice last minute, leaving Jason with nowhere to go. The 36 year old spent weeks sleeping on friend’s sofa’s before finding himself on the streets. “It was the toughest time of my life”, Jason explains. “To be honest, I was heartbroken by it all.”
After several nights sleeping rough, Jason moved into a local night shelter, where he stayed for two months. “The hardest thing was knowing what to do all day. They wake you up at 6.30am and you’re not allowed back till 10.30 at night. My cousin used to say “come round during the day” but travelling was difficult because I had no money”.
Jason remained in contact with his sister but his relationship with his mum started to break down. “My mum had this idea that homeless people were all drug addicts so she started to get herself paranoid about that. We stopped talking to each other because I didn’t want any negativity around me.”
Thankfully, Jason managed to get support from Ron Jones House – a local hostel which provides temporary accommodation and helps homeless people to find a permanent home. It was here that Jason learnt about the Ready for Work programme. Run by charity Business in the Community, the programme offers employment training to people with barriers to work, setting them up with a two-week work placement with a local employer.
Once Jason discovered the types of job opportunities available through the programme he decided to give it a shot. “I’d been on Job Seeker’s Allowance for over a year because of a shoulder injury I got during an epileptic fit. It had badly affected my confidence, so I needed support to find a job. The two days pre-placement training was one of the best things I’ve ever been to and helped to build my confidence back up again”.
Business in the Community’s Employment Programme Manager, Lynne, helped Jason to secure a work placement with leading support services company, Carillion. Recalling what Jason was like on the training, Lynne says: “He really threw himself into it. He was incredibly positive and determined to make the most out of the experience.”
The training helped Jason to brush up on his interview skills and improve his self-confidence. “With interviews in the past, I’d often said lots of information but hadn’t necessarily put it across in the best way. But thanks to the interview training, when it came to my placement interview with Carillion, I felt the most confident I’d ever been”, explained Jason.
Jason was given a two-week work placement at Carillion, helping to maintain the Brunel building at Bristol Southmead Hospital. “My placement was amazing. They made me feel really welcome, and I had a ‘buddy’ who showed me the ropes.”
His colleagues were impressed with his skills and midway through his placement, Carillion’s recruitment business Sky Blue told Jason there was a permanent role available for him. “When I found out, it made everything that had happened to me seem like a positive thing. Had I not been homeless I wouldn’t have found out about Ron Jones house, and I wouldn’t have taken part in Ready for Work.”
A brighter future
Jason has now been employed by Carillion for over nine months and has seen his role expand to take on extra responsibilities. “I love coming to work for Carillion every day. Management speak to you like an equal. They’ll ask “what can we do to improve your experience in the job” and I’ll say I want to take this or that on. Next thing you know they’ve given me that responsibility.”
According to Jason’s buddy, Liam Agg, Jason now comes across as a happy, confident person thanks to Ready for Work: “Jason has gone from strength to strength since he started. He has no problems speaking to senior members of the management team and even gets involved in delivering corporate inductions to new members of NHS staff.”
“Ready to work is a fantastic programme. In my experience, the clients taking part want to succeed and just need a little help in doing so. For me, as a buddy on the programme, it’s a really rewarding experience, especially when I am able to offer them a job at the end of it.”
Sharing his experience with others
Reflecting on his experience, Jason says: “I’m a lot more confident now because I can go out and do things. I tell anyone who will listen that there’s nothing to lose with this programme – you’re supported for travel and food, and you’re gaining experience and confidence.”
“Jason is a role model example of what can be achieved on the Ready for Work programme. He started out in a very low place, but he grabbed the experience with both hands and now he’s a highly valued member of the team at Carillion”, says Lynne, BITC’s Employment Programme Manager in Bristol.
Jason still lives at Ron Jones House but is hoping to move into his own property in the next couple of months. He’s back in touch with his mum and says his parents are really proud of everything he has done to turn his life around.
Business in the Community’s Ready for Work programme is run in 16 locations across the UK and helps some of society’s most disadvantaged people to enter employment. It is supported by a number of businesses, as well as the People’s Postcode Lottery – which has donated £740,000 over the last three years, making it the programme’s largest funder.
Over the past 6 months, support from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery has enabled [insert no] people from Bristol to access the Ready for Work programme and receive life-changing employment support.