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Our Voice

Posted on 10 September 2020

Employability Blog; Changing Futures

Are you in Burnley, Preston or Blackpool and facing some kind of personal obstacle that is preventing you from getting a job during the Covid pandemic? Then you need to know the name Sam Warren.

Sam is the Transformational Coach for Changing Futures – a charitable initiative being delivered by The Calico Group. Its aim is to help in whatever way it can to allow people to secure permanent employment by overcoming the challenges which may stand in their way.

We asked Sam to tell us more about her role.

“Changing Futures is free to use and available to anyone over the age of 16 who is not in work or full time education. My job is to help them with barriers they want to overcome so they can get into work or training. Those barriers are varied, from anxiety and confidence concerns to a lack of IT skills or an inability to use public transport.”

Even during the pandemic, Sam’s efforts made sure that as many people as possible were listened to and were put in the right direction when tackling issues stopping them from getting a job.

“The most important part of the role during COVID was to support my clients through the lockdown, reassuring them all that they weren’t alone and although there were hard days that there was always someone on the other end of the phone that would help with literally whatever issue they had. Some of my clients have been shielding and could have become lonely so it was important for me to ensure they knew I was there. My main goal was to not lose any clients to addiction, depression, anxiety or worse”.

The changes to life as a result of Covid-19 have meant many of the challenges faced by clients have been exacerbated, whilst for others new challenges have been created such as loneliness or experiencing acrophobia once lockdown restrictions were lifted.

Sam continues, “you have to adapt what you do to the individual’s needs. One of my customers likes emails so we have stuck to that but I introduce quizzes and sent a link to online craft ideas  I also read the same book with one of my clients and we did a book review and then this extended to a film review. As lockdown eased I took my deck chair and visited some clients at their home sitting on the pavement. I also met in parks and more recently cafes (sitting on separate tables)’.

The challenges of the pandemic, and the subsequent economic downturn, have made it increasingly difficult for Changing Futures to fulfil their ultimate aim of getting their clients into the world of work. Despite this they have had numerous successes with many of the people they’ve worked with either getting interviews or being offered employment.

A ‘success’ though isn’t always a job offer; for many clients, small moments of personal achievement have made an immeasurable difference to their confidence and wellbeing, especially during the pandemic where it could have been very easy for them to be ignored whilst the attention was on Covid 19.

“One customer has learnt to cook”, explains Sam Warren, “she had step children and her boyfriend in lockdown with her she felt she needed to look after the children properly so looked up recipes on line and quite literally taught herself to cook  good wholesome food and was so proud of herself. Some customers have developed agoraphobia while on lockdown so now it’s about encouraging them its safe to come out of hiding (while wearing a mask and social distancing) but enjoying the simple things in life like a bacon butty!”.

Changing Futures is a European Social Fund enterprise and is delivered by various charities and community groups across the North West. If the service sounds of interest to you, you can mention it to your support worker at Job Centre Plus or get in touch with Sam directly on 07792215643 or email swarren@calico.org.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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