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Personal Story - Simon

Simon, a former rough sleeper from London, writes about his experiences of Ready for Work.

In less than two years I have gone from sleeping rough on the streets to having a good job, a good place to live and a future I’m looking forward to. For me the Ready for Work programme offered that way back.

I was introduced to Business in the Community’s Ready for Work programme through a local homeless charity in Chelmsford which was providing accommodation for me at the time. I was actively seeking work, but having no permanent home I found it very difficult to even get to the interview stage and was becoming very frustrated and disillusioned with the whole process of finding work.

When the charity suggested I apply to the programme I was sceptical, but decided I had nothing to lose. I attended an initial interview and was accepted.

The next stage was two days training which focused around developing a positive attitude and more practical advice and techniques such as creating a good first impression at interview. Personally I found the stuff we did around attitude and reaffirming the reasons why I wanted a job in the first place most useful.

After the training I was given a period of two weeks’ work experience with a company called Carillion in their finance team working on the Barts hospital project. I really enjoyed my time there – the people were very welcoming and made feel like part of the team. My duties included general admin, compiling spreadsheets and general office duties. I was offered a further two weeks’ work experience and at the end of this I received a very positive written reference to take forward in my search for work.

The final stage of the programme was to be introduced to a job coach. For me this turned out to be the most positive part of the programme. I met with my coach on a weekly basis and he supported my job search in a number of ways. He took my CV and had it reviewed by colleagues within his business and then distributed it through the company’s supply chain. He accompanied me weekly to the job centre and helped me choose appropriate jobs and complete applications. Most importantly he took an interest in me.

After a few weeks my job coach got me an interview with Carillion to become an IMS Advisor. Initially I was offered a six-month temporary contract which I accepted, after six weeks I was offered a permanent position.

I now spend my time travelling the country visiting offices and construction sites carrying out safety tours, investigations and supporting the business with safety matters.

To sum up, in a period of less than two years I have gone from sleeping rough on the streets to having a good job, a good place to live and a future I’m looking forward to.

One of the worst things about homelessness is how quickly you feel excluded from the rest of society and it becomes very difficult to see a way back. For me the Ready for Work programme offered that way back.