Life Leisure’s Job Club proved to be just the job for Thomas Johnson who is celebrating a new career in catering, thanks to an introduction from Pure Innovations.
Life Leisure’s Job Club was set up to help those struggling to find work.
28-year-old Thomas from Heaton Chapel has just started working as a catering assistant at Care UK, based at Abney Hall – his first ever position as a paid employee. It’s an opportunity Thomas, who has Cerebral Palsy, believes would not have been possible without the help of Life Leisure’s ‘Job Club’, a weekly drop in session at which visitors can access advice, IT facilities and support on areas such as CV writing, online job searching and interview techniques.
“I’ve always been keen to work but have found getting a job really hard. I often felt like people dismissed me, perhaps because of my condition, without really understanding what I could offer. I’ve been really happy volunteering in various positions – most recently in the kitchens at The Wellspring in Stockport – but it seemed that experience like this didn’t really matter. I wanted to have a job of my own, the problem was nobody wanted to know.
“Another part of the problem was that I’d also found job support sessions really stressful. Even though I asked for help nobody really listened. I’m not very good with computers at all so online searches and applications were extremely difficult for me. I’d just end up getting frustrated because I really needed more one to one support and found it wasn’t really available.”
That’s when Pure Innovations, a community organisation set up to help people with disabilities and disadvantaged groups to live independently, suggested Thomas try Life Leisure’s Job Club.
Held every Friday at the organization’s Avondale Centre, Job Club was set up to help job seekers in Stockport boost their employment prospects and better access exercise. As well as getting help with job searches, applications and skills, anyone attending the session also has free access to the centre’s on-site pool and gym as part of their job club visit.
“To be honest I’d had pretty low expectations. Why should this be any different? But then when I went, I found that the volunteers there were really interested in me. They spent time getting to know me, and helping me to identify strengths and to talk more confidently about my skills. They even sat with me while I was applying for roles to help with anything I might not understand.
“And because of the setting, it was more relaxed. Not pressured. It is really great that you can use the facilities there too. I felt comfortable and soon became more confident too.”
After just six sessions, Thomas received the news he’d been wanting to hear for a long time. He’d got an interview – an opportunity which turned into the job Thomas has wanted for so long.
Seb Rowe, Head of Business Development, from Life Leisure is one of the Job Club volunteers who worked with Thomas.
“We were all so pleased to hear Thomas’ news! The whole point of this Job Club is that it is a bit different – a community atmosphere, in a community setting, with one-on-one support to help those who want to work but for whatever reason are finding things difficult. We could see Thomas had some real skills to offer and it was fantastic to help him see his own strengths. We wish him all the best.”
Job Club runs every Friday between 10am and 12 noon at Life Leisure Avondale in Cheadle Heath.