'I was at rock bottom but now I feel like a different person'
5 March 2018Jennifer Nixon is someone who had always worked during her adult life.
The hard-working 38-year-old mum from Ellesmere Port had previously succeeded in numerous office management roles for various companies within the West Cheshire borough.
However, that all changed when Jennifer’s daughter was diagnosed with disabilities and autism at the age of four. Jennifer had to stop working to look after her daughter.
Jennifer said: “I was my daughter’s full time carer but I lost her disability living allowance, so I started looking for work but couldn’t get a job. I then began to lose my confidence, got depression and started to suffer from anxiety. I got to the point that I did not have the confidence to go into places for interviews.”
Jennifer says that at this point she ‘hit rock bottom’ and did not know where to turn, but all that changed when she got the support of an Employment Support Mentor at a Cheshire West and Chester Council Work Zone. Jennifer said: “He changed my life with his support and guidance.”
The Work Zones were set up by Cheshire West and Chester Council to help people into sustained employment through a single point of contact service. Job seekers are referred to Work Zones by the Department for Work and Pensions or people can make a self-referral. A partnership approach involving the Council, Department for Work and Pensions, educators, and employers means that job seekers can be assessed, mentored, trained and introduced to potential employers when they are work ready.
There are four Work Zones in Chester, Ellesmere Port, Northwich and Winsford and each have Employment Support Mentors who assess people’s skills as well as taking stock of all the other factors that impact on their life before creating an agreed action plan that creates a pathway to achieve employment goals.
Jennifer said: “The Work Zone staff were amazing and helped me a lot. The mentor really supported me, and asked whether I needed to see a counsellor.
“They gave me back my confidence and said I had the skills to get a job. The mentor said they were confident they could help me find me work and taught me how to blow my own trumpet. I was told I had the right attitude for work.”
This confidence boost paid off and Jennifer is back in part time employment as a customer service advisor. Life has improved for Jennifer and she recommends the Work Zones for others in a similar situation.
Jennifer added: “I feel like a different person. I was isolated before, at home with my daughter. Now I can enjoy the social side of work and it is very different to before. I have my confidence back.”
Since April 2017, the Work Zone mentors have supported approximately 700 people into work and helped more than 2,500 since Work Zones opened in 2013.
Councillor Brian Clarke, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure, said: “Work Zones are highly valued by our customers and partners. They continue to perform strongly, delivering financial and social benefits. The number of people that Work Zones have helped into employment has risen year on year. Work Zones continue to provide an effective solution to unemployment, and I am glad to say our performance figures support my opinion.”
If you need help finding work, contact a Work Zone in your area by visiting www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/workzone or telephone: Ellesmere Port 0151 356 6667, Chester 01244 976028, Northwich 01606 288540, Winsford 01606 288901.