Throughout 2023 we have continued our series featuring articles that focus on a ‘day in the life’ of people working in a variety of services and organisations across Ayrshire, whose dedication and efforts are key to reducing reoffending and improving outcomes for people in contact with the justice system and the wider community who are impacted by justice issues.
We would like to thank Chris for sharing his story with us.South Ayrshire Council’s Thriving Communities Employability Team is very much an inclusive team, who support a wide range of people from school age to retirement age. The team is focussed on improving an individual’s life and supporting them to progress within their community.
The team offers personalised support to people which may include, digital and financial inclusion or maximisation and better off calculation (this is a calculation gathering current financial information to allow a calculation of potential future outcome to current household budget and finances), job searching and looking at potential training opportunities, job brokerage and aftercare when in work. Staff also work in partnership with mental health and recovery services. The team work on the individual person’s journey offering a holistic service that is driven by them and their goals.
Officers support a variety of people referred through Justice Services, Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Recovery Services, local schools, self-referrals, and as part of our PACE Team (Partnership Action for Continuing Employment) we support people facing redundancy.
Chris is an Employability and Skills Officer within the Thriving Communities Employability Team supporting people referred through Justice Services.
“People are encouraged to identify things they would like to change about their lives, and I then support them to set achievable goals.”
A TYPICAL DAY
Every working day is different due to the potential changes in a person’s day to day life. I work across several council spaces, one of which is the Justice Services Office in Ayr. This means I can be on hand to link in with colleagues in Justice Services if they need me to introduce our service to someone they are working with or identify any challenges or additional support needs.
I support people via face-to-face and walking appointments as well as undertaking home visits with Justice colleagues if required. People are supported through their own journey; we evaluate any challenges that arise and reflect on progress during appointments. This allows any issues the person is experiencing to be addressed and further support to be put in place.
Walking appointments allow rapport to be built with people especially those who may be struggling with anxiety, as well as improving their physical health. Building trust with a person is vital as we work collaboratively to create an action plan that is appropriate and realistic, supporting people to reach their potential.
People are encouraged to identify things they would like to change about their lives, and I then support them to set achievable goals. These goals may include gaining a qualification, improving literacy and I.T skills and job brokerage to identify suitable employment opportunities. We also offer support if people want to improve their health and/or mental health, or addiction by referring into our partners such as SALUS or local recovery groups. I job broker for my clients using my colleagues in the Employer Engagement Team as well as larger companies. I provide tailored aftercare so that nobody is left without support after they go into college, work, etc.
I provide a monthly update to Justice colleagues as we work around the person’s needs. I also link in with my colleagues within Thriving Communities such as the Family Engagement Team and Supported Employment and Youth Team if other members of the family require support as Thriving Communities is an inclusive service for the community.
I CAN’T LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT
A positive attitude, lunch, and my laptop bag!
Everyone has challenges that they want to overcome, which is what our employability support is there for. Unfortunately, some people face multiple challenges and often disengage from our service to focus on their priorities. Prison and ongoing issues around a person’s liberation can be a barrier alongside housing, mental health, and addiction issues.
Being able to adapt quickly and understand the challenges people are facing is essential when working alongside Justice Services. It is important when building rapport that the person is given a safe space where they feel they can be open. This creates a more relaxed environment and allows them to feel no pressure to engage which strengthens participation. Working in close collaboration allows us to gain more information and build an accurate account of their daily lives. We are then able to develop an action plan around their capabilities, values, and goals.
“Working within a great partnership involving many organisations, who are genuine and motivated in making a difference to those facing some of the most significant barriers within our communities.”
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT WHAT I DO
Supporting people moving forward, taking ownership and responsibility for their lives, achieving goals they did not think possible.
Also, working within a great partnership involving many organisations, who are genuine and motivated in making a difference to those facing some of the most significant barriers within our communities.
IF I COULD CHANGE ANYTHING
Improving support for people being liberated from prison, so they are ready for the challenges they will face on their release and for those serving community sentences.
Many will be living in homeless accommodation with limited support where they may be exposed to pressure and lifestyle choices which may hamper their rehabilitation and recovery. Life is difficult, moving from the structure and routine prison life offers to being isolated with limited daily activity.
Unfortunately, many of the people engaging with Justice Services who I support have suffered complex trauma in their lives, which they struggle to manage or get relevant support to deal with it. This is often the underlying issues which drives their offending behaviour.
WOULD I CHOOSE THIS PATH AGAIN IF I COULD?
My honest answer is YES.
I genuinely really enjoy my job and look forward to work every day!
WHAT WOULD I SAY TO SOMEONE CONSIDERING THIS CAREER PATH?
If you have compassion, enjoy making a difference and are open to the challenge then I would recommend working within an environment where you get the chance to support people live better lives.