Believe you can work again - read Rowena's story

Rowena from Burton believed she would never work again due to her drug addiction and depression. With help from the Work Programme she is now working as a waitress at a local pub and has been nominated for an employment award.

Moving from unemployment into work can be life changing. Rowena Jeffrey, 42, from Burton, thought she would never work again due to her drug addiction in the last ten years, depression and low self-confidence.

When she was referred to the Work Programme with learndirect, one of Serco’s welfare-to-work subcontractors in May 2013, Rowena had progressed to a methadone programme. However, attempts to move Rowena forward did not seem to gain much momentum initially, largely due to still living with an addict and using illegal drugs to alleviate feelings of stress and insecurity.

Even though Rowena’s adviser, Joshua, was struggling to get her to engage on the programme, he never gave up on her and encouraged her to start a self-affirming daily journal which she sustained. Gradually Rowena gained qualifications in customer service, IT, maths and preparation for employment. They are also having discussions on improving her housing condition.

Rowena said: “The team at learndirect, especially Josh, have worked so hard to build my confidence. A year ago I thought my world had ended, I had my face to the floor and my self-confidence was at an all-time low, but with the help of the team I have completely turned my life around. I have gained qualifications and I no longer use any recreational drugs.”

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Rowena also benefited from support in organising a very successful enterprise event by organising the volunteers, stocking the shop, pricing goods and promoting the event.

Rowena was over the moon when she secured work as a waitress in a pub last November, giving her a new start and keeping her busy enough to stay away from hard drugs.

Rowena has been recognised through a nomination for a learndirect Inspiration Award in the ‘Into Work’ category. The awards aim to celebrate the incredible achievements of customers going that extra mile to develop their skills, as well as the businesses and learndirect centres and people supporting them into sustainable jobs.

Tricia Foster, Business Manager at learndirect who nominated Rowena for the award, said: “Rowena’s personal development has been gradual and sustained and she has made some significant lifestyle changes which will help her progress in a new way of life. We’re all really proud of what she’s achieved and think she would make a worthy winner in the Into Work Award.”

Rowena will find out in March whether she has been shortlisted to attend an event at which the regional winners will be revealed. Regional winners will then progress to a national final in London in July.

Rowena, who was delighted with the nomination, said: “The best thing about learndirect in Burton is the welcome I get from everyone in the building; I no longer feel alone, these people have become as close as family to me, I can tell them anything, I feel I can do anything.

“Starting work was a huge challenge, but it’s the best thing I’ve done. My manger is a great support and regularly tells me how well I’ve settled in – but I know that without the encouragement I received from the team I probably would never have come so far.”

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