Getting a job in lockdown

Friday, 24 July 2020

Below is the story of a Mum who has got a job during lockdown from Making it Work for Lone Parents project.

My Name is Kim and I’m a 46-year-old mother of three. Until 2015 I worked in the care sector, but my personal circumstances changed I had to leave. The onset of epilepsy along with poor mental health, my marriage break-up and an increasing addiction to over the counter prescription drugs meant that I was unable to continue working. As my addiction increased my confidence and self esteem plummeted.

In 2016 I joined Making it Work for lone parents. I built a good relationship with my worker, attended confidence building groups, family outings and made friends with other parents.

However, in the background I continued to use prescription medication. As time wore on I needed to take more as I would suffer from withdrawal symptoms which was really difficult while caring for my family. This meant that weekends and evenings could be spent going to numerous chemists in a bid to hide my addiction. I lost so much time and money doing this. I felt like my life wasn’t my own – I was only existing.

In 2017 I left the support of Making it Work for lone parents to start college, and even managed to secure a job over Christmas. Unfortunately, the company decided not to keep me on and wouldn’t explain why, which affected by confidence. I then had another seizure and was kept in hospital to work out why. My Fife Gingerbread worker saw what was going on through social media and invited me to come back to Making it Work for support. My self esteem had fallen again, and I found the support from peers in groups invaluable. I decided to become a Fife Gingerbread volunteer and helped at groups and buddied another lone parent.

All the time my addiction was in the background until one day I realised that I needed to deal with this or risk my life. I was exhausted from the toll this was taking on me and my family.

I told my support worker and contacted DAPL for specialist help. Once it became clear about the amount of medication, I was taking my worker supported me to in going to my GP for liver tests and a referral to NHS Addiction Services. While I was waiting on this appointment my GP gave me prescription medication to help with my withdrawal symptoms. When I was started on Suboxone it was to be dispensed to me daily.

It was like a weight had been lifted from me and I felt relieved to be dealing with my addiction head on. It was far from an easy journey, but I felt a freedom from something that had weighed me down for years. I was getting much fitter and walked for miles……for the first time in a long time, my life was good.

I continued working with Making it Work and started to think about getting back into employment. By this time I had learned a great deal about addiction and really wanted to work in this area but have no work experience so I didn’t ever think that this would be a possibility.

My worker told me about a new project that was starting in the Fife area and thought that I’d be perfect for volunteering with them. ‘Phoenix Futures’ is a project that supports addicts overcoming drugs and alcohol using a mentor-based service. I was really interested in this and became a volunteer. I was apprehensive but excited at the prospect of working in my chosen area…...I was so grateful to be given this opportunity as I knew this could be the beginning of something really special in my life.

In 2019 I began volunteering and completed my training. I then began doing group work in the prisons and I realised that this was the work I wanted to do. I’ve also supported service users on a one to one basis and get a great deal of satisfaction from this. I became aware that the Manager was writing a funding bid for a paid Support Worker and was really interested in this prospect, however I didn’t really think I could be considered as I had no qualifications in this area and fairly limited experience, but I knew I wanted to apply.

It had been a long time since I’d had an interview and I was really nervous. It was to be held on Zoom because of COVID19 restrictions, and although the lockdown experience as a whole hadn’t been too bad, I still had some apprehension about COVID and what the future held. Having an interview in this situation was very strange!

As usual I felt there was a lot that I didn’t get round to saying and really didn’t feel confident at the end of the interview. However, the interview panel didn’t agree, and I was over the moon to be told that I had been successful! I had landed my dream job and just couldn’t believe my luck. This was the sort of thing that happened to other people and not to me! Friends and family are extremely proud of what I have achieved, and my support worker couldn’t be happier.

I’ll be starting my job soon and can’t wait. Five years ago, I could never have dreamt that I’d be where I am now, I still can’t believe it! All the hard work has been worth it, and I just hope that my story can inspire others to believe in themselves and try for something they never thought was possible. Including getting a job during lockdown!!