Kettering Jobcentre helped man back into work after homelessness
A man from Kettering who had been unemployed since 2003 was supported back into work by the Jobcentre thanks to the close relationship he built with his work coach.
Mick Foster had been an engineer and working in factories before poor health and a hand injury meant he had to look for new work.
He said: “I specialised in plastics, I used to make bubble wrap.”
An accident with a bandsaw left Mick with a badly injured left hand and he said: “It was just one of those things, I was only off work for three and a half weeks.”
However, the injury left Mick with lasting damage and he said: “It’s a long hard road.
“Being a factory worker, you do need good use of both hands. If you’ve not got two hands, it’s just not going to happen.”
Mick needed to find different work so he turned to Kettering’s Jobcentre where he first met work coach Andy Cicero in 2003.
Ady said: “That’s where Mick came in to us. We deliver workshops where local employers come into the workshop and talk about their vacancies.”
Ady said the focus of the Jobcentre is getting the right job for the right individual at the right moment, and they work hard to support and develop people’s work skills on their journey into employment.
There are computers in the Jobcentre for people to use for job searches and applications and there are a number of courses to help people prepare for employment.
Mick got involved in some of the workshops, including about health as a barrier to work due to his hand injury.
Ady and Mick built up a good relationship but changes in Mick’s life meant Ady did not see Mick for the next 14 years.
In 2017, Mick unfortunately became homeless but with the support of a charity, he came back to the Jobcentre where he met Ady again.
Mick said: “Ady persuaded me to attend a local jobsfair and came along to support me. But the nerves I experienced made us both realise that I needed further help and support before I could think about working.”
The jobsfair was at Wicksteed Park and Mick said he was shaking through nerves. Ady had given him a hot drink and Mick said: “I was so nervous before the interview that Ady almost ended up wearing [the hot drink].”
Ady said: “What we found was we needed to work on confidence.”
Mick said Ady encouraged him to take part in more workshops and take on some work experience.
Ady said the whole process is about getting individuals to the point where they are ready to work when the right job comes along.
Ady had noticed that Mick had good IT skills and was good with other customers so offered Mick work experience in the Jobcentre.
Ady said work experience can often be a really important part of the journey towards employment and said: “Some people need that little bit of help and support of being in a safe environment.”
When Mick turned up for his work experience, Ady said: “When Mick walked through the door for his first day of work experience I hardly recognised him! I was used to seeing him heavily bearded, with long hair and in casual dress. He’d had a haircut, his beard was trimmed and he was wearing a smart shirt and trousers. I had to do a double take!”
Mick said: “It was really valuable.”
The work experience went well, especially thanks to Mick’s IT skills, he said he loved computers and technology and said: “Sit me in front of any computer and I can work it out.”
The placement was so successful that Mick went on to do more work experience in Leicester.
Unfortunately, another period of difficulties meant Mick became homeless again and was living on the streets. However, it did not deter him or Ady who continued to support him.
Ady said: “It was quite a difficult time for you.”
Mick said: “I was coming in daily to do a job search and being supported by everyone here.
“They really pushed the boat out.
“About a month or so later, a vacancy came up.”
It was a challenging application but thanks to support from Ady and his work experience, Mick was offered a job as a data gatherer for Incapacity Benefit with the Department for Work and Pensions in September 2018.
“It was absolutely brilliant,” said Mick.
Ady’s support did not end there, as Mick needed a place to live.
Ady said: “Despite the good news on the job front, I was still concerned about Mick’s housing situation and didn’t want it to affect his ability to take the job.
“I have contacts in the local housing market and luckily one of them found Mick a room in Kettering. I was so pleased.”
Mick said he moved in the next day and said he was a bit nervous about starting work again because he had been out of work for so long.
However, Mick said: “Fortunately, joining the DWP, you get a nice introduction you’re eased into it.”
Mick said it also had helped that he had met several of the people he was working with through his work experiences and he’d had a taste of the job.
He also said he likes helping people who are in similar positions to the one he was once in. Mick said: “It’s nice making the phone call that could make a difference to somebody else. There’s been a few tears down the phone.”
Mick said being back in work has turned things around for him. He said: “My confidence is high, I have somewhere to live and a fulfilling job with a regular wage.
“I’m so grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve received from DWP. I will never forget how the whole team at Kettering Jobcentre helped me on my journey back to work.
”If I had to sum it up, with the DWP there is a place for everyone and everyone has a place.”