We all know life can test us at times and the last 14 months in particular have challenged many of us in ways we could never had anticipated. Under certain circumstances, many of us would find it tough to remain confident, level-headed and optimistically positive no matter what is thrown at us.
This story is about a regular person, with a regular life and a regular family (whatever that is these days). That person could be any one of us. The hope is that this provides some inspiration and reassurance that support is available should you need it and no one is ever left behind.
Faye is in her forties and lives in the St Austell area of Cornwall. She is a single mum, with four children, ranging between six to 16 years old. Until the end of last year (2020) Faye worked as a community carer for adult social care. Unfortunately, the long impractical hours coupled with being a single parent had become increasingly challenging as the Covid 19 restrictions took hold and tested the family like never before.
Faye was required to work long shifts, often meaning it was rare to have any evening or weekends to spend with her children. She persevered throughout the first lockdown. Faye had very limited childcare options available. Reluctantly, Faye accepted that she could not continue this way. When her children had to isolate at home, she was unable to attend work. Her parenting responsibilities had to come first.
A difficult situation gets worse
Faye had explored training as a nail technician. It was something she enjoyed and it would give her a better work-life balance. Plans however, were put on hold as Covid restrictions hindered progress. With growing debts and some strained relationships in her family, Faye’s mental wellbeing deteriorated. As each day passed, Faye felt she was on a downward spiral, feeling low and frustrated with life, with few obvious options open to her.
Faye reflecting on that time, said: “Around this point, I was feeling like I had given up all hope and had nowhere to turn.”
In January 2021, Faye was put in touch with Pluss Health Works for Cornwall (HWC) and from this point, things started to look up.
What is Health Works for Cornwall?
HWC is a European Social Fund funded provision, delivered by Pluss, with the prime contract managed by the Cornwall Development Company. It exists to support people, for up to 12 months, who have any kind of concern over their wellbeing or health, to overcome barriers to employment and to improve their wellbeing, that could lead to employment or training.
Faye was introduced to Paul, her change coach. A change coach works with a participant to understand their circumstances, identify what barriers to employment exist and then together they will typically work through a plan that tackles these barriers. Everyone is different. Support is delivered at a one-to-one level and is completely bespoke.
When initially meeting with our participants we always try to get to know the ‘real’ person first and ascertain exactly what they want to achieve from the programme. This approach is key to identifying and working through the barriers and issues that have held them back to date. We then take small steps, via realistic monthly actions and targets, to pro-actively address and tackle these issues. This clears the path for our participants to find the focus and motivation to secure sustainable, fitting employment.
Barriers to overcome
Paul was able to ascertain that Faye was experiencing anxiety and poor mental health. She was in or very close to financial crisis since becoming unemployed and Faye was unable to pursue her self-employment plans due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. On top of that, one of her children was particularly challenging which only added to the pressure she was under and Faye was unsure what to do first.
Paul referred Faye to access some much-needed debt management advice. He also supported Faye with her application for self-employment and specialist skills training, to become a self-employed nail technician. Faye received funding for a printer. This enabled her to draft business plans, coursework and produce marketing materials. Paul also arranged for HWC to cover costs for her public liability insurance, to allow Faye to practice on prospective clients.
Paul also signposted Faye to a family support service, which allowed her to access the right specialist help for her child. This has had a positive impact on the whole family.
Paul added: “As a change coach, the support we provide isn’t just fixing things by directing to appropriate services and buying a printer, although these are both important pieces to a complex jigsaw. A key part of our role is to try to really understand what is holding a person back, and work with them to knock down, one-by-one, many of the barriers that have been holding someone back. It’s so rewarding to see people coming from a ‘not so good place’ and grow in confidence and fly.
“We deal with some very complex cases, but often, these amazing people have all the right ingredients needed to get to where they want, but they often just need someone to focus on their circumstances and make sense of the steps to take. Faye’s story is a brilliant example of that. Watching people succeed and get on the right path makes my job so worthwhile.”
Today Faye feels in control of her life, family and work circumstances, saying: “If it wasn’t for Pluss HWC and Paul, my change coach, I would not be where I need to be to support my family and my mental wellbeing would have kept getting worse.
“It’s all about my kids. I just needed someone to listen and help me see what my options were. With Paul, I knew I could always pick up the phone if I wasn’t sure about something. He would give me encouragement and get me pointing in the right direction. My mental wellbeing is so much better now and I’m so glad I found Pluss HWC!”
Since joining Pluss HWC, Faye has shown tremendous resilience with a renewed motivation and a proactive approach to every aspect of her life.
“Faye’s ability to juggle the pressures of her home life and deal head-on with any setback she faces, while trying to build her business, has been nothing short of exceptional”, said Paul.
Faye is now in the final stage of her training and is aiming to start trading as a self-employed nail technician around mid-May. She has recently passed an HWC-funded gel polish course, to give her a competitive edge and she will be attending parenting classes in June as well as starting a salon management course around the same time. Finally, after years of trying, thanks to help from her new support worker, Faye will get her son assessed for ADHD.
Faye is enormously enthusiastic about her future, compared to just a few months ago. She has a plan for the future that will allow her to work around her family’s schedule and give her the work-life balance that she desperately needed.
If you are interested to learn more about HWC and how it can help you, visit: www.pluss.org.uk/services/health-works-cornwall or call 07546 411996 / email firstname.lastname@example.org for a friendly chat about your options.