Swansea’s Christopher Evans, Justin Davies-Jones, Raymond Ray and Angela Bowen have little in common.
However, one thing they do share is a new love of the workplace after many years with poor prospects.
Christopher is a support worker with Community Lives Consortium; Justin is a forklift driver with Uneek Clothing; Raymond is a kitchen porter with Grape and Olive, Swansea; Angela is a customer services assistant with Coastal Housing.
They were all helped into their new world of work by Swansea Council officers attached to employment scheme Workways+, a scheme supported by EU funds through the Welsh Government.
Alyson Pugh, the council’s cabinet member for better communities (people), said:
“It’s great news that Christopher, Justin, Raymond and Angela have found work they enjoy after being unemployed for a variety of reasons.
“This shows the power of Workways+. I urge all those struggling to cope with long-term unemployment to consider the scheme as a way towards a bright future.
“The programme helps people regain their confidence and achieve fantastic outcomes.”
Christopher, aged 47, of Morriston, began a 12-year period of unemployment in 2006 when his career as an electrician came to an unplanned halt.
He developed a passion for care and decided that this was what he wanted to do for a living.
Workways+ helped him gain confidence and break down barriers into employment. They helped him develop skills, build knowledge and gain work experience.
He now works in a supported living house caring for four people with individual needs. He thrives on supporting them, helping them gain confidence to live the life they choose. His goal is to gain greater knowledge of the health and care sector.
“Contacting Workways+ was one of the best decisions I’ve made. They helped me gain confidence and break down my barriers into employment.”
His employer Community Lives Consortium provides support for people who want to live successful lives in the community. It provides services under contract with either Swansea Council or Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council.
Justin’s serious health issues prevented him from getting a job until, more than a decade after leaving school at 14, he was helped by Workways+.
He was provided with support and training which led to him qualifying as a forklift vehicle operator then securing his first job.
Justin, aged 27, of Llansamlet, said:
“Life felt hopeless, I was desperate for help – and Workways+ were brilliant. They helped me see past my disabilities to reach my goals.
“They made me believe in myself and get my first qualification and job. Through work my life has opened up. I have new friends and my confidence has never been higher. My partner and I now have financial stability.”
His employer Uneek Clothing is a one-stop source of quality manufactured clothing with a distribution centre at Talbot Green, west of Cardiff.
Raymond, aged 53, of Mount Pleasant, was in and out of work for 15 years as he faced hearing difficulties, lack of qualifications and childcare responsibilities.
Workways+ helped him achieve qualifications in food hygiene and food standards.
“Workways+ are fantastic. With their help I’ve achieved positive results and they helped me identify opportunities.
“My new job has made a big difference to my life. It has improved my confidence, value and personal worth.”
Raymond’s place of work is Brains pub the Grape and Olive at the top of Swansea Marina’s Meridian Tower.
Two years ago, Angela had not worked for 17 years due to ill health which had brought her employment to a halt.
Workways+ helped her rebuild her employment skills and confidence. She took training related to IT, accounting, health and safety and the construction workplace.
She enjoyed paid work experience with Morgan Sindall before joining Coastal Housing in 2018.
Angela, aged 51, of Penllegaer, said:
“My Workways+ mentor made me feel that I was not worthless and I had a future. She motivated me and introduced me to others, helping me get back into work.
“My confidence is growing. All the hard work I have achieved in the last year has finally paid off.”
Coastal Housing is a not-for-profit industrial and provident society, existing for the benefit of the community, operating in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, and Carmarthenshire.
Swansea Council is one of several local authority partners in the Workways+ scheme which gets long-term unemployed participants into work.
It offers training and paid work experience opportunities to hundreds of people, helping get their lives back on track.
In Swansea it is supported by EU Funds and council where it is managed by the regeneration team’s external funding specialists.
Between March 2016 and May 2019 Swansea Workways+ has helped to support 180 participants into employment and has supported 167 people to gain training and qualifications. The team has supported 580 unemployed people.
To talk to the Swansea Workways+ team please call 01792 637112 www.workways.wales.