European Social Fund (ESF) case study - Clanrye - Positive Directions

The overriding objective of Clanrye’s Positive Directions project is to improve the quality of life for people with a disability through the provision of specialist support, tailored training, employability skills and employment opportunities. It will encourage inclusion in society, address barriers faced and increase participants’ capabilities by enhancing their skills, qualifications and employability.

The project is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.

Participant's story

This is the story of a participant who, after a long period of ill health, returned to work with the help of Positive Directions.

The participant had to give up her job as a nurse due to her ill health and was unable to work for almost 12 years. This meant she was dependent on the benefits system for this time, something she never felt comfortable with.

Condition Management Programme

At an interview relating to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a Personal Advisor discussed with the participant the options open to her, including the Condition Management Programme (CMP) and the training and support available from the Clanrye Group.

The participant says,

“After that meeting I made the first of two very important decisions that would completely turn my life around. First of all, I decided to start the CMP. During this time a programme at Clanrye had been mentioned, however at the time of finishing the CMP I did not feel ready to start another programme and decided to wait.”

“The second monumental decision I made was to actually commence the Clanrye Positive Directions programme. On my first day I was nervous, however I was made to feel very welcome and this helped to partly ease my social anxiety and confidence, which at the time was very low. Within weeks I was completing qualifications and this helped my confidence to grow.”

Starting a work placement

In November the participant’s advisers discussed the possibility of her starting a work placement and set up a meeting in a local health and care centre. She started her placement shortly afterwards.

She says,

“Straightaway, I was made to feel like a member of the team and I was with them for 15 months until I had completed the programme. This was so beneficial in helping me to gain confidence in myself and a belief that I could get a job.”

The participant also pays tribute to the support she received on the programme.

She say:

“Throughout the Positive Directions programme I was given so much support. They were instrumental in helping me gain new qualifications and skills and I was also able to make lifelong friends. Whilst on the programme my anxiety became difficult to manage at times and on some occasions I found myself having panic attacks.”

When the participant had a panic attack she says she was immediately given help and is grateful for the support and care she received at that time.

Applying for jobs

During her time on the programme the participant started to apply for jobs and received assistance in completing application forms and preparing for interviews.

She says:

“Getting back into work was something I was very worried about because I felt that any potential employer would look at my illness and conditions and decide that I would be unreliable and therefore not give me a chance to prove that I could do the job. Participating in the work placement and also assisting with administration in Clanrye gave me so many new skills that my confidence in my abilities grew and I realised that I would be a valuable member of any team if they gave me a chance to prove myself.”

These opportunities allowed the participant to provide evidence of her skills on both the application form and in interviews and they also provided her with current and relevant references.

Gaining work

She applied for quite a few jobs and managed to get interviews for all but two of the posts. The participant went for an interview to be an administrator for a charity which operates in the Care sector and the following week received a call offering her the post which she accepted.

She believes that without first completing the CMP and more recently the Positive Directions programme, she would not be where she is now.

She concludes:

“I will always be grateful for all the help, support and friendship that I have gained whilst on the Positive Directions programme. I would recommend the programme to anyone and firmly believe it was instrumental in getting me back into work and becoming more confident in myself and my abilities.”

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