We caught up with Becky to find out why she became an employment specialist and what it’s like on the Working Win health-led employment trial.
“I grew up around business, my parents opened a play centre when I was 11 so that's when I started working! I went to school in the week and at weekends I worked in the family business. It really got instilled in me at a young age how to operate in the world of work - and I learned skills that you can only gain through experience.
“I’m not sure at what age it started but when I was a child I became fascinated with Africa. I decided that I wanted to study there and when I was 17 I ended up going to Malawi to volunteer. This led me to the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme in Zambia, which was a great decision because that’s where I ended up meeting my husband! I really wanted to work in humanitarian aid but allot of this is based in London so we decided to move back to Worksop and start a family here.
“I learned allot of skills during my time away, especially how to interact with different types of people. Then when I came back my work focussed on supporting refugees and minority groups which was really eye opening.
“Becoming an Employment Specialist seemed like a natural progression for me. Even as a child I was career driven, and with that drive I really enjoy helping people work towards their goals and aspirations. Having the business background has really bred into me the ability to support people in an enterprising way.
“When I first started on Working Win I thought that the wellbeing side was a bit cheesy if I’m honest! But now I really see the impact and my perspective has changed completely. I’m a new mum and so that’s helped me to put things into perspective - not just for myself but with the participants I work with too. Putting yourself first really benefits your work.
“The focus on wellbeing at Working Win and South Yorkshire Housing Association has translated to my own life and that's just fantastic. It was always work first for me, but now I realise I have to put myself first and that will make my work life benefit too.
“If I had to sum up being an Employment Specialist I would say; variety, balance and inspiration. All the participants are unique, all the networks and circles we associate with, the way we travel around - everything about every day is different and that’s what I love about it.
“Some peole need help to write a CV, some benefit from setting up SMART goals, for some we practice interviewing techniques, building confidence, helping to pull out strengths and talents from their life experience – it’s really mixed and completely dependent on the participant.
“Sometimes you might meet someone who seems like they don't need that much from you - but when you sit down and get to know that person there are always areas that we can support with. It really promotes reflection - in yourself and in that person’s life - and you can really see how this translates to society as a whole. The work we do not only affects those we support but everyone else they come into contact with too.
“It is the things that sometimes seem small from the outside, but for those people, it is not small, it's really powerful - it’s those times that you can go home and really feel like you made a difference in that person’s life. As a society we are really set in our ways, and as a service there are expectations of what employment support looks like: but we are working to break down those preconceptions and those stereotypes. If we can make even one person feel that they are cared about, that they matter, then we have made a difference.
“Just the fact that people voluntarily turn up to a meeting and that they have trust in you, that shows how different this service is that we are testing.”
Becky works as an IPS Employment Specialist testing a new type of support for people looking to find and stay in work. Working Win is a randomised control trial commissioned by the Government’s Work & Health Unit, delivered by Sheffield City Region and South Yorkshire Housing Association in cooperation with the NHS. Half of the people who take part test the new service and half the people are signposted to existing services in their area. If you’re interested in finding out more about the trial and how you can take part then visit www.workingwin.com or call 0114 2900 218.