Small steps, big journey

Linda’s Journey

I was having difficulties in work and was struggling for some time. I knew I needed help if I was to stay in work.

I contacted Access to Work who put me in touch with Workable NI (Action Mental Health) and Robert was appointed as my Employment Support Officer. He was so easy to talk to and if felt good to speak to someone who understood how I felt and to know help and support was available. At last, I could see it would be possible to move forward.

I wasn’t good at asking for help and Robert spoke to management on my behalf. It became apparent that I needed a move to a new working environment. With Robert’s help, some adjustments were put in place while I waited for the move. This was a big relief for me. I felt a weight starting to lift off my shoulders.

Robert continued to support me and when the move did come Robert was there for me again. He reassured me about the move as I was feeling nervous. He came to the new office with me and spoke to the new management. It was soon apparent that I needed some computer skills training for my new role. Again Robert came to the rescue and I was enrolled in a course. I am really enjoying it and everyone has been lovely and very supportive. It is a great environment to study in and I can work at my own pace. This course has been invaluable in my new job role.

If it wasn’t for Workable N.I., there is a great possibility I wouldn’t be in work now, but because of the help and support I have received my confidence has grown, my work skills have much improved and I’m gaining a qualification in computer skills.

I just want to say a massive thank you to Robert, Workable NI (Action Mental Health) and the lovely people there. Long may you continue helping and supporting people who need it. I would highly recommend your services to anyone.

Workable Support Improves Mood!

 Dorothy (AMH) has been an excellent Employment Support Officer over the two years she has been with me. Her patience with my lack of time management was admirable. She always strove to provide the best support and found the right services I needed, i.e. CBT, other therapy and autism assessment referral. Without her help, I would not have been able to stay in my job. Her dealings with my manager were professional and she always ensured that I felt comfortable when sharing my mental health problems. Her manner put me at ease, as I never felt judged when sharing my problems or was simply venting frustrations about my current work situation. After each visit to my place of work, my colleagues noticed an improvement in my mood. We used to say in the office that everyone needs a Dorothy in their lives.

Sissy Borchert

A Grateful Employee!

My story with Workable and Eimear (AMH) started with a return to work after prolonged period of sick leave.  I was very anxious returning and was questioning whether it was the best thing for me to do.  Eimear managed to turn this around.  She has been an amazing source of support over the last couple of years.  She provided a listening ear and good advice when problems came along.  She arranged a referral to Susan at the Condition Management Programme who gave me practical advice to cope with my condition.  Once that came to end, Eimear’s gentle encouragement helped me to keep going with their advice and make real changes to my life.  She helped me to attend courses at the Recovery College, another source of great advice. Eimear gave me the motivation and confidence to confront the issues that were holding me back and begin to sort them out for myself.  I feel very lucky to have had Eimear’s help and I don’t think I could have remained in my job without her.

Emily (NICS)

Meet Sinead!

Sinead is supported by Mencap on the Workable NI Programme in her job as Kitchen Assistant in a local Care Home. Sinead works 4 days per week and has recently taken on extra cooking duties in work and loves cooking and preparing meals for the residents! Well done Sinead!

The Future is Bright for Robert!

When suffering from severe anxiety and deep depression I was approached by HR in my work who then put me touch with Workable NI.

From here, I was able to have fortnightly check-ins with Dorothy in Action Mental Health and CBT sessions.  By doing this, it gave me someone to speak to and open up about ongoing issues that I was experiencing. The CBT changed my approach and outlook to situations; it has also gave me many tools to use on a day-to-day basis.

My overall experience is that without Workable NI I do not think that I would have had the professional support needed to get me through what I was experiencing; it has given me a much brighter and positive outlook on my future.

Thank you for all your help and support over this past number of years, I am truly grateful.

Many thanks

Robert Ballard

Setter in Manufacturing Company

Declan Is An Amazing Worker!

Declan is supported by Mencap on the Workable NI programme and works as a colleague in KFC. He has been working here for over 2 years. Declan says, “I love working and being part of a team…Mencap has been an amazing experience through the journey of getting a job, and I wouldn’t be here without their help.”

Declan is an amazing worker and his colleagues think so highly of him, with a previous manager saying he is one of the best around. Declan has been doing so well in his job and is due to progress from the programme soon, when he will continue with work unsupported. The whole of the Mencap team are so proud of Declan and how far he has come!

John’s Workable N.I. Experience

I suffered a number of panic attacks in November 2021.  I felt unable to attend my work, although I was able (at my own suggestion) to continue to work from home.  I made attempts to return to work, one time a week after the initial panic attacks, then after the Christmas holidays, but on both occasions was unable to do so.  While there was no pressure from my employer (a school) to return, I felt it would be necessary to do so at some point.  However, it became clear that this was not something I was going to be able to manage on my own.  Initially I tried counselling, but this wasn’t suitable.  It was clear that the issues I had related to the return to work, and weren’t ‘deep’ enough for counselling to be effective.

At this point, the school bursar suggested contacting the Cedar Foundation, as that organisation had been used by the school for other employees in the past.  It was in this way that I was put in touch with Supported Employment Solutions, and in turn my Employment Support Officer from Action Mental Health.

Dealing with Supported Employment Solutions was both professional and pleasant.  The relationship I had with my Employment Support Officer was as much based on developing a personal side as it was putting in place a programme of professional assistance, and I couldn’t have been happier with both of these aspects.  That programme was delivered thoroughly and straightforwardly, perfectly matching my requirements. I recognise that the issue I had was not complex, but it needed to be solved.  Supported Employment Solutions put me on a straight path to solving it.  I have returned to work, and have come back fully engaged and (hopefully!) contributing effectively to the workplace.

Iain’s Employment Journey With NOW Group

Iain has been a part of the NOW Group since 2018. Since then, he has gained a full time job role with Hendersons Mallusk. With the support of Employment Officer Megan McCleave and NOW Group’s SES Workable N.I. Programme, he has achieved full training in using the Fork Lifts and Reach Trucks as part of their Warehouse Operatives team.

Iain is heavily involved in most of NOW Group’s other services and training courses. Through these services he has completed his Driving Theory practise, as well as becoming one of the new Ambassadors for external events for NOW Group to help promote our services.

Iain is also one of the members of our NOW Football team and has competed in the George Best Cup. Iain is very well known to all NOW Group staff and has achieved great success in the last 18 months since gaining full time employment which has allowed him to commence driving lessons which he hopes to pass in 2023.

Iain is very hard working and has shown his commitment to helping others within NOW Group. He is always willing to go above and beyond for his colleagues and to help other participants when he is in the Hive. Congratulations on your achievements Ian!

Learn more on how NOW Group can support you into employment –

SES Workable N.I. – How It Helped Me – A Western Health Trust Secretary’s Testimony

I was turning 40, and my life crashed before my eyes.  This is a cliché but that is what happened.   Work life and personal life just collided and I could not take any more.  I crashed and could not see a way out.  I was at the waters edge without a clue what next. 

On the way home from work one day I stopped on the roadside and rang Call Care; I had lifted one of the leaflets at work – I could not go on another mile.  They had time to listen and speak to me and organised counselling, they encouraged me to see my GP who put me off work and started high doses of anti-depressants – I was all over the place.  They did not seem to be working, the Mental Health team saw me and meds were changed and Condition Management Programme was started.  I attended Occupational Health and between them, they put me forward for the Workable NI programme to help me try and return to work.  Which I thought would solve all.   I was in no way nearly ready when I look back now.

I really do believe this is when I started to struggle my way out of myself.  My Employment Support Worker was excellent, she seen things clearly were I could not.  As they say, I could not see the forest because of the trees.   The things that seemed massive started to become achievable.  Knowing she was there behind me was such a prop or a support. Even when I did not see her, I knew she was there.  She did not make my decisions or do things for me but believed in me that I could do these things for myself.  I had no one else, but she was there every step of the way, with encouragement, with practical advice with clear vision when I had none.

This journey from the brink to now has been a very bumpy road and not an easy one by any means, but my support worker from SES got me here, and I know that I would not be here only for her.  Doctors/counsellors etc. changed, but she was constant beside me.  Not behind or in front but supporting me the whole way from the sidelines.

I would in no way say I am cured or 100% but I can look back and see how far I have come, and am able to deal better with situations that life throws at us.  I have even changed jobs in the Trust and feel that I have flourished in doing so.  I would not been able to even consider this move without the support of SES.  I will always be thankful for Nicola for being there for me.  I could not support the work she does more.

A New View on Life

L-R Doreen Bacon (Business & Governance Manager), Reece Kennedy (Administration Clerk), Hilary McLean (Office Manager)

Hi, my name is Reece I have autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia. I was referred to Workable N.I. after having to go off sick from work due to stress and anxiety. This was due to me not being able to share with my supervisor and work colleagues that I was struggling. This resulted in my work getting on top off me, which felt like an awful weight hanging over me until it got too much which resulted in me having an anxiety and stress related episode in work, which led to me having to go off work on sick leave.  

When I was first referred to Workable NI, I didn’t know how it was going to work. Would it be face-to-face appointments, zoom or by telephone. Before attending my first appointment I received a phone call from my Workable caseworker who talked me through how the service worked. This resulted in us organising an appointment that suited me best.

When I attended my first appointment I was put completely at ease that the main goal of my case worker was to help me get back to work with more supports put in place. Luckily enough after multiple appointments with Workable and being referred by them to Access to Work and Inspire, this helped give me the tools and support I needed to help manage my anxiety and stress. This has supported my return to work.

Workable had helped so much at getting new strategies put in place and worked alongside me, my supervisor and Head of Service.  This was done through organising meetings with us all together or with me on my own. My workable caseworker came out to see me in the workplace and also arranged meetings by telephone. They also kept in touch with me by email and text to check in-between appointments to make sure that the next agreed appointment still suited or if there was anything else that they could help with until then.

Workable and my workplace helped organise training so that if I was struggling again my colleagues would notice and be able to help prevent a situation arise again. Workable also helped me realise that I was better coming forward when I’m struggling as its better to prevent problems getting any bigger.

I now know that I have multiple people in work to support me if I start to feel stressed or anxious, including my supervisor and Head of service. They have all told me they are there to support me. As well as this, Workable has recommended other things that can help me in work that my supervisor and head of service are more than happy to implement or look into when suggested.

After being involved with Workable I am so much happier in my workplace, as it has allowed me to develop more as a part of the team and become more involved in the day-to-day office work. I would suggest anyone that is struggling in work to get in contact, as the service is very friendly and accommodating to service users.