Maybe sometimes you have moments in your life where you feel limited in your ability, limited in your mind or limited in life’s opportunities and choices. Well life is limitless, sometimes you just need the key to unlock the limitless possibilities and this is my story today.
I once remember my mother telling me a story of how when she was in Musgrave Park hospital and she had read a slogan, which read “you can if you think you can”. Having been born with cerebral palsy weighing 1lb 13oz and attending a special needs school she wanted me always to never give up and keep trying so that I could succeed. Living in the real world sometimes, we believe that all hope is lost and there is no way to turn. I was in one of those situations this year. I had lost my job. Initially I was working through a recruitment agency and I thought everything was running smoothly life seemed great. Then one Monday morning I received a phone call “can you come into the office” the voice said so I went. I was sat down and was told “your services are no longer required”. I WAS UNEMPLOYED! I went home to my wife and told her the bad news she was very supportive and told me to keep going as my mother always taught me. I felt optimistic and hopeful that in the next week or two I would have a new job.
After six months of being unemployed hope and optimism soon vanished what was I going to do? Bills needed to be paid, and life was turning into a daily routine of disappointments and knock backs. I was frustrated by endless searches on the internet and recruitment agencies calling me and offering me jobs which were completely unsuited to my needs. I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders and I had nowhere to turn. Something needed to be done so I picked up the phone and called the Cedar Foundation.
I was introduced to a friendly member of staff, Robin, who sat down and asked a very interesting question. What would you like the Cedar Foundation to do for you? At last I felt I had a person who would listen to me, who I could off load all my worries to, but more importantly I had an organisation that would really listen and help in a time of need. I was enrolled on the Work Connect programme, a programme designed to give disabled people the skills and confidence within to gain employment. The Work Connect programme offered a wide of services including how to write a good application form, build a new CV, learn interview techniques and how to focus my search for jobs. A step by step programme was drawn up by me and Robin with achievable, realistic goals put in place. Every fortnight I would meet up with Robin and review my progress to date, highlighting areas which needed work.
At first I had perceived that my experience with the Cedar Foundation was going to be very regimental in its approach but I could not have been more wrong. Tailored in their approach, the Cedar foundation were able to work with me to identify specific needs, skills and the attributes I required in order to obtain successful employment. Robin identified that my CV needed to be rebuilt and that my interview skills needed some attention. Each time I met with Robin we addressed the areas which were stopping me from gaining successful employment. I felt a sense of achievement and accomplishment within myself.
Day by day I was regaining my confidence back and building on the skills that I knew where inside me. Frequently my progress was reviewed and comments like “I know you have it in you, you just need to find it” really boosted my confidence and my will to succeed. Like one of my favourite films The Matrix stated “they can show you the door but you are the one which needs to walk through it”.
One of the hardest challenges I needed to face was my interview skills. Robin arranged a date to set up a mock interview panel to simulate a real life interview scenario, this really helped as it taught me how to control my nerves, be question ready and more importantly be successful when it came to an actual interview. After preparing me for an actual interview Robin helped me to tailor my approach in seeking work by helping to find and apply for jobs that suited my needs as a disabled person.
I was now job ready and began sending my new CV to employers. I started seeing the results of the hard work and dedication of both myself and Robin and I was being invited to a number of interviews. It seemed a number of doors that were previously closed were now open. I attended an interview for a post with a plumbing and electrical suppliers and was successful. The future was now, once again limitless. I had regained the skills, talents and confidence to move forward, but most importantly the support from The Cedar Foundation was to continue. I would describe my whole journey with the Cedar Foundation as focusing on LIMITLESS POSSIBLITIES. The support from the Cedar Foundation still continues as after the Work Connect programme ended, I was enrolled on the Workable (NI) programme This programme provides a flexible range of long term support to assist people with disabilities and with substantial barriers to employment to keep working. This programme has provided me with continued support. Robin visits my place of work on a regular basis and reviews my progress. With my employer on board with the programme I am able to carry out the duties of my job successfully, I couldn’t be happier, for me The Cedar Foundation has helped me make the impossible, possible.
Michael from Stevenson Plumbing supplies said ‘Its a comfort to know that there is support there if I need it.