After Ray’s apprenticeship as a sports coach was cut short, he found himself unemployed for over a year.
“When my apprenticeship finished, I couldn’t find a job. Life was meaningless because I didn’t really do anything; I was just waking up every day and going on the computer. I didn’t have any structure to my life.”
No home and no job
Finding himself homeless and out of work, Ray received support from Bristol-based youth housing charity 1625 Independent People. In 2013, Ray’s key worker at 1625 referred him to Ready for Work.
“At first I thought it was going to be pointless and I would be working for no reason. But after the first week I got used to working, and I began to learn where everything was, and I got to know some of the people who were working there.”
At the end of his two week placement, Ray was offered a three month trial for a permanent role. Two years later, he is a full time member of staff at Waitrose. He says he owes a lot to Waitrose, and particularly to his buddy, Sonia:
“To begin with I was quite shy, but my buddy, Sonia, was a great help to me. We still work together and I see her as a mother figure. I’m now much more reliable, and my work ethic has definitely improved. I worked hard to get a full time contract, and I want to see what else I can achieve”.
Part of the team at Ready for Work
Sonia also says that she feels like a mother to Ray, having supported him from the beginning:
“I made sure Ray was ok during his placement, and now he has a job here! He feels like a son to me.”
Having struggled in the past to find employment, Sonia volunteers as a buddy for the Ready for Work programme, and plays an important role helping participants like Ray to find their feet:
“I like that I can take my experience and use it to support Ready for Work clients,” she explained. “I think it’s important that they feel like they’re part of the team, and are supported.
Paying it forward
Two years after completing Ready for Work, Ray is also keen to help others find work: “I didn’t believe the guy at training who said it would be worth it, but now I am that guy! Ready for Work really is an amazing experience – I owe the programme a lot for helping me get back to work and I would really recommend it.”
Thanks to the People's Postcode Lottery, Ready for Work has been able to support young people like Ray to find employment.