Struggling to find employment despite incredible effort can have a big impact on someone’s health and wellbeing. This was the case with Scotty, who found it difficult to identify a clear path into work after being failed by multiple services. This, coupled with the difficulty of managing a chronic illness, made Scotty feel hopeless. However, after working with BHT Sussex’s Intern Programme, who supported Scotty and his specific needs, Scotty found a way through. This is his story.

Feeling hopeless

“My life was pretty bleak for many years, and I did not see much of a future ahead of me. After falling ill with a chronic condition during high school, I had to drop out and subsequently, my education suffered because of it.

Fast forward a number of years, I had learnt how to manage my condition but by now I was in my 30s and had only ever worked casual part-time jobs. My mental health was terrible, and I suffered horrible anxiety around people. I relied on benefits for a long period of time but found them increasingly stressful to be on. I was eager to get off benefits and find long term employment which I could handle, and finally get on with my life.

The problem was, with just 3 mediocre GCSEs to my name, a lack of employment history, no further education, no experience, and a mental health condition – no one would give me a chance. I lost track of the number of applications I filled in, never to hear from again.”

Lack of support from employment advisors

“Up until now, I had only sought help from a disability employment advice programme, who were ill equipped to support me sufficiently. I once left a meeting in tears after being told they felt unable to refer me to any disability friendly employers, as I assumed they would.

I had pretty much given up by now and was accepting the fact that I would never work and would remain on benefits until the day I died.

I began taking antidepressants to manage my intrusive thoughts and anxiety and started mental health counselling with Brighton Wellbeing. This was the first step I took in my journey.”

Finding a path with BHT Sussex

“I was put in contact with the mental health charity Mind, who directed me to another charity local to the area which specialised in helping people just like me.

This was the first time I encountered BHT Sussex.

After meeting with their Routes advisor, I finally felt a sense of hope. This is exactly the support I had been searching for for years!

Together we set a series of achievable goals and identified the support I would need to accomplish them. This included working on a CV which highlighted my strengths and not my lack of qualifications. I was even offered financial support for any further education I may have wanted. This spurred me on to study like crazy, never had I been so thirsty for knowledge, with a desire to prove myself.

With the support and encouragement of Routes, I achieved my first proper industry-recognised certification. I went on to achieve not just 1 but 4!

My final goal was to find a work placement – something that I had considered impossible just months prior. Just the mere thought of finding a job would send me spiralling.”

Securing a work placement

“With help from the BHT Sussex Intern Programme, I was given a work placement in my dream job. I had tried numerous times over the years to break into the industry but was repeatedly knocked back due to lack of experience.

The whole process was smooth and never made me feel overwhelmed. I was in charge from the get-go and could go as fast or as slow as I liked. I started working 12 hours a week which gradually built up to 18 over the 6-month internship period. My mentor was fantastic – so calm and understanding – I was never made to feel any less than a proper member of the team.”

A dream job and brighter future

“I learnt so much at my internship and was finally able to demonstrate I had the skills and know-how to do the job. What’s more, I even succeeded in gaining a full-time position within the company after my internship ended!

I cannot thank BHT Sussex enough for what they did. The entire team are such lovely people who have so much passion for their jobs.

I always knew I had what it takes to do the job, but no one would ever give me a chance to prove myself. BHT Sussex finally gave me that opportunity with their Intern Programme and I am now living my best life in my dream role.”

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