Pathways to Employment - J's Story

Lorna worked in our Skills and Employment Team in Camberwell as a Keyworker on the Pathways to Employment Project which helped people overcome barriers to access employment opportunities. Here she describes her work with J – a vulnerable young man who needed lots of help to boost his confidence and identify his goals in order to gain employment.

"J moved to London in December 2016. He had been unemployed for two months prior to his referral to the Pathways to Employment Project in March 2017. He had one month work experience at McDonalds as a Crew Member but had not passed his probation period. He was staying with his mother and younger brother who were in temporary accommodation having fled domestic violence.


J left school in Year 8 and moved abroad with his grandparents where he was home schooled. He had very good communication skills and really wanted to work but lacked confidence feeling that he had nothing to offer to an employer; limited work experience and no formal qualifications.


J felt that he should look for work similar to his role at McDonalds and wanted to look for Kitchen Porter / Kitchen Assistant roles. We explored his interests to broaden his options. He had enjoyed gardening in Somerset with his father and had worked with him maintaining gardens in the area. He also enjoyed computing and all forms of gaming and had spoken about working with computers.


J was a very shy and vulnerable young person, lacking in confidence and self-esteem. It was important to give him space to talk and reflect back on any positives. We prepared two CV’s (kitchen porter and gardener) and a cover letter. We applied for some Kitchen Porter / Kitchen Assistant roles but the majority asked for more work experience than he had or a food and hygiene qualification. I discussed this qualification with J. He was interested so we prepared by working through the mock papers. His literacy and IT skills were really good and he passed the course with flying colours. As a result, his confidence and self-belief started to grow. He also attended our Confidence and Motivation and Employability workshops where he had an opportunity to work in groups and role play.


During our job search J applied for a seasonal gardener position. We got a call back straight away from the employer wanting to arrange an interview. He was excited but a little anxious because he did not have any interview clothing. I showed him the clothing we had at St Giles Trust and was able to find a shirt and tie that would be suitable. We completed interview preparation and covered his fares. He was successful and offered the job.


J excelled in the role and the employer was very pleased with him so at the end of the season it was agreed that he would return to his position. During this time we met to look for some temporary work. Unfortunately he hurt his arm pretty badly so we had to abandon interviews arranged and job search. After speaking to him, I put him forward for a training course with the Open Space Trust which would give him a qualification in Horticulture and create a progression route. He was interviewed and offered a position.


J has gone from strength to strength, he returned to his gardening position in the spring and his employer supported his professional development on the training course with a pay rise and promotion (he is no longer seasonal staff). J pops in to see me whenever he can to share any developments in his life – he has a young lady now, passed the Horticulture course and is looking for his own accommodation. He is a bright, confident young man now and I am very proud of him."