James’ Story

“Now I get up and go to work with a spring in my step, thinking about what I’ll achieve for the day,” says James who was supported back into work by Sarah Roper in our employment team.

James, 53, had worked all his life in the hospitality industry. Starting as an apprentice chef, he progressed to become an area manager for a string of nightclubs, eventually starting his own business promoting clubs.

When things in the industry “became tougher and tougher,” James was forced to close his business. Finding himself unemployed for the first time in his adult life, he was determined to find work.

“I applied for hundreds and hundreds of jobs,” he explains. “It had all changed from when I was younger. I’d never been unemployed or had a formal interview. It’s so different. It’s all internet based. You send applications off and you don’t get a reply.”

Like many people who come to the Centre for support with their job search, James had begun to doubt his employability:

“Sometimes you start to lose confidence, wondering if you can do that anymore or if you’re too old. I’m 53, so I’m still young, but you start to doubt yourself.”

Although James had help from other employment support providers, he didn’t feel he was making progress. “They tried to help me, but they didn’t understand me. The only jobs they had which they tried to push me into were basically minimum paid jobs. I felt like they were just trying to get me off their books.”

Having previously been to the Centre, James knew the personal support we provide. He decided to ask for support and as soon as he met Sarah in the employment team he felt like he was taking a step in the right direction. “When we sat down we had a really good conversation. Sarah found out what my strengths and weaknesses were, and helped me re-write my CV. It was really helpful.”

In addition to supporting clients with their job search, the employment team work with companies to develop opportunities for clients to get exposure to new industries and job opportunities. The Berkeley Foundation, the charitable arm of property group Berkeley Homes, runs a job creation programme to help people who have been long-term unemployed get back into work by identifying roles in the Berkeley Group or the organisations they work with.

Sarah explains the process: “The initial stage involves a screening interview with Tina Rosenow, the Project Manager for the programme. The interview aims to assess whether the candidates are the right fit for the roles on offer. Whilst the interview is fairly informal it is important that each candidate portrays a professional and committed attitude. And so I run a number of sessions helping candidates to prepare.”

James remembers his screening interview: “There were about eight of us. Sarah gave us information and techniques for interviewing so we’d be prepared for any question Tina might throw at us. You could tell that everyone in the room wanted a job. Although it was a one-to-one interview, Sarah sat in so although you’re nervous you felt there is a bit of extra support there.”

James explained to Tina about his interest in building management. Within days, Tina had got him an interview with Rendall and Rittner, the biggest property management agents in Europe. Although nervous, James felt encouraged, “I’d already got over one hurdle, because Tina thought I was suitable.”

The great news is that James got the job! Understandably, he was thrilled – “I was so excited when I got the call to say I’d got the job. I was contacting both Sarah and Tina to thank them immensely! It’s not until you get the job that you wanted that you realise a weight has been lifted off your shoulders and you have a big smile on your face. You’re walking down the street feeling proud again.”

Like so many people the Centre helps each year, James is so grateful for the support he received, “the people at the Centre are so caring. I want people to hear my story so that people who are having difficulties realise that if they come to the Centre there is help.”

Read how your company could help support people like James back into employment.