When Yassir first came to the Cardinal Hume Centre for help he was demoralised, lacking confidence and fired up by a sense of injustice. His family were struggling, his father was sick, and Yassir needed to find work in order to look after them.
“I’ve got a lot of responsibilities,” says Yassir. “At the end of the day it’s not really just about myself. I have brothers and sisters to look after.”
The employment team helped him to set goals. He was able to use the computers in the Centre’s IT room to apply for jobs and he received the dedicated help he needed to get on the right pathway and in the right frame of mind. Yassir recalls the problems he had before coming to the Cardinal Hume Centre:
“With the job centre work programme, every time you go you see someone new. The Cardinal Hume Centre is very different. People have time for you; the staff are organised. You come in with aims and objectives, and the staff go out of their way to help you.”
Yassir formed a close bond with the employment team, especially Richard, who worked closely with Yassir throughout his time at the Centre. They really listened to him and got to know him, and were able to figure out what his skills were and the type of jobs which would be best suited to him:
“They gave me motivation on how to move forward. It’s much more than just how to write a CV. I’m so grateful for their help.”
Yassir struggled to hold down a job initially. He was quick to point out when he was being treated unfairly, perhaps losing his temper. An unfair dismissal from one workplace led to a tribunal and Richard helped him every step of the way. The team worked with Yassir to help him channel his energy into applying for new jobs and in January 2013 he got an interview with Prêt a Manger, leading to a permanent position that he still holds today.
The emotional support which Richard and the other members of the employment team provided went a long way to changing Yassir’s outlook on life. Their belief in him boosted his confidence, taught him how to deal with difficult in-work situations, and showed him that there were people in the world who were willing to help.
Yassir’s progression was acknowledged further when he was chosen to attend a meeting with MP, Mark Hoban (Minister of State for Employment, at the time). Yassir took the opportunity to champion the work of the Cardinal Hume Centre and express his own gratitude for the support he had received; the experience reinforced his understanding that his voice mattered.
Yassir now works for Primark as well as Prêt a Manger and this boost to his income has allowed him to start saving for his future. At Christmas he returned to the Centre to volunteer, helping the fundraising team wrap and package presents for children in the family centre, and before leaving he donated some of his own money back to the Centre. He explained why this was important to him: “I’ve taken so much from the Centre during my time here; I can’t just take and not give back.”
The employment team make sure to maintain contact with the people they work with even after they have secured work, and Yassir returns to “In-Work Club” every couple of months to share his experiences with his peers and talk over issues he may be having. His respect for the team and the support they gave, and continue to give him, is evident in the way he talks about them:
“There are no words to describe [the Centre]. It’s an oasis in the desert. Anyone can walk in here from any part of the world and be welcome. I’d never met people like Richard, Jeanita and Ben; they’re doing amazing things.”