Insights Back to work after 23 years: How Seetec helped Susan move forward
17 March 2017

Back to work after 23 years: How Seetec helped Susan move forward

Susan Employability

“I honestly feel if I can get back up on my feet and back to work anybody can.”

Warrington-born Susan, aged 54, had been out of work for 23 years; her confidence was at an all time low and she had almost entirely given up hope of getting back into the world of employment.

However with the help of specialist employment, skills and rehabilitation company Seetec, working in partnership with Armstrong Works, Susan received the one to one support she needed to assist her to rebuild her confidence and secure a new career in catering in Warrington.

Suffering with anxiety and depression had severely knocked Susan’s confidence in being in unfamiliar situations but with the support of her adviser she gradually began to increase her confidence and in February 2014 started to consider the possibility of returning to work. 

Susan said; “At the start, I did not feel that I was even able to consider returning to work. I felt really alienated and hadn’t had a job for 23 years. In this time I’d been looking after ill family members and started to suffer from severe depression and anxiety problems. Some days I even struggled with leaving the house or using public transport.”

“Based on my previous experience, we began to look at catering roles. My adviser, Hayley, found a role for me in a local restaurant. A five-hour trial was arranged; I was physically shaking and didn’t think that I would get through it. When I got the call to say I got the job, I nearly collapsed with shock, but was so proud of myself.”

“I was still very nervous about coming off benefits and going full-time so my adviser suggested committing to a 15-hour a week role which eased me back in and gave me time to build my confidence. She kept reminding me of how far I’d come and how much good feedback I was getting from my colleagues and other managers. Somehow I found the strength to keep going and was starting to love the job. I was proud of what I’d learned, felt part of a team and was receiving excellent feedback from customers that was reaching my manager.”

Over this period Susan spent time discussing increasing her hours with Hayley who also took time to sit with her, helping her look at her budget and see that she would be financially better off working, and reducing her benefits. She recalls, “My adviser started to talk to me about increasing my hours, and I really didn’t want to do it. I didn’t feel I could do it.”  However, in the new year, Susan decided to take the next step and ask her manager for an increase in hours. “I thought new year, new start so I took the plunge. My manager offered me a full-time contract then and there. I’ve also been told they wanted to clone me which is lovely feedback!” 

“I am so much happier now. I’m still not 100% confident and, don’t get me wrong, I still have my off days but I’m a totally different person now I am back in work. I honestly feel if I can get back up on my feet into work anybody can! ” 

Hayley Saunders from Armstrong Works said, “I am so proud of Susan. She has been on a challenging journey and never thought that she would be able to successfully join a workplace and break to cycle of worklessness. Working in partnership with Seetec we are able to support many people like Susan back to work in the North West region. Many people have huge barriers to overcome before returning to work but with time and one to one support we see successful integration back into the workplace”.

Helen Tomlinson, Seetec Director for Welfare said, “People are at the heart of what we do and I am always delighted to hear about stories like Susan, the drive and commitment our customers and staff demonstrate to improve lives.  Recent unemployment statistics showed that unemployment is at its lowest since October 2005 and stories like Susan, makes me even more determined to reach out and help more people”.