People, Places, Business

15 years of unemployment

Port Talbot Woman finds route back to work after 15 years of unemployment

A Port Talbot woman who was out of work for over 15 years has found a job thanks to the support of an EU-backed employment project.

Jackie Workways

After receiving support from the South West Workways project, 50 year old Jackie Ellis is now employed as a peer mentor with the Welsh Centre for Action on Dependency and Addiction (WCADA), a local charity that helped her overcome her own struggle with alcohol abuse.

“For years my priority in life was alcohol and I didn’t have any intention of doing anything else; my days were 24/7 drinking,” said Jackie.

It was when a close relative passed away from the effects of alcohol, that Jackie realised it was time to make a change.

“I decided to stop drinking and sort myself out; WCADA helped me do this.”

Free from the influences of alcohol, Jackie could consider employment for the first time in years. However, she still had barriers to face which the Workways project helped her overcome.

“I was frightened and I didn’t know how to find a job.”

Jackie received support from Workways to search for job vacancies, build her confidence, complete job applications, access training and write a new CV.

“The encouragement I had was brilliant - they never lost sight of the fact that I was capable of doing a job.

“If I was having a bad day, there was always someone there to talk to. It wasn’t just a case of helping me find a job, the support network was invaluable.”

Jackie was soon recognised for her progress when she picked up an award for Adult Learner of the Year from NPT Adult Community Learning, with whom she studied a course in Psychology.

“I was gobsmacked to win the award - I still don’t believe it!”

Workways also helped Jackie to secure a temporary job as a peer mentor with WCADA, a work environment where she felt comfortable. Having demonstrated her value to the organisation, she was delighted to secure a full time position.

“I’ve got a lot of responsibility now working with individuals who have had issues with substance misuse. I give them support to help them realise their potential.

“I absolutely love my job – I’m so grateful for the help that I’ve had from others that I just want to pass it on.

“I can’t put it into words how much it means to me to be back in work. It’s given me my self-respect back; it’s given me a sense of worth and the pay comes in handy too!

“Without Workways I wouldn’t have come as far as I have. They never had any doubt in me. Whenever I questioned myself, they told me ‘yes you can do it’.”

Councillor Ali Thomas, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council said “I wish to commend Jackie for all her hard work and wish her all the very best in her new post. Again, this is showing the outstanding work that the Workways project and its staff achieve.”

South West Workways provides support to help people overcome the barriers which prevent them from finding work. Participants, who choose to take part in the project, are helped with job applications, CVs, interview techniques, personal development and access to training.

Workways is backed by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government. The project is led by Neath Port Talbot Council in collaboration with Bridgend, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Swansea Councils.