Diane McLelland’s Work Connect Story

D. McLelland picture

My name is Diane Mc Lelland and 24 years old. Prior to starting on the Work Connect programme I had been unemployed 18 months. I had lost my previous job as a result of addiction to alcohol and drugs and felt that my life had started to spiral out of control. As a result I began started to suffer with mental health problems and got very down and depressed.  My family constantly lived in fear of the news that I may have harmed myself by consuming too many drugs. I got into trouble with the police and as a result I felt that it was time to try and turn my life around.

My adviser at the Jobs and Benefits Office recommended the Work Connect programme to me and I felt that this might be the support I needed to help change things.

I met Sabrina Mc Cartney who was the Employment Officer from Action Mental Health that was assigned to work with me on the Work Connect programme. Sabrina organised for me to attend the Hope Centre in Ballymena to help deal with my addiction problems. She also worked with me on a one to one basis and met me fortnightly in my local area. During our meetings we would look at vacancies and fill out applications together but also talk about problems in my life and how I could deal with them. We worked on updating my CV and looked at preparing for interviews.

With this support I was able to kick my addiction problems and I began to feel that I had the confidence to apply for jobs.  After 3 months on Work Connect I secured a job with a cleaning company in the Coleraine area for 16 hours a week.  I felt that without this support this was most definitely something I could not have done on my own.

Since starting my new job I feel that my life has changed so much for the better. I feel happier in myself, and proud of what I have achieved. I have routine and structure to my days and feel that this has all helped reduce the symptoms of depression that I previously suffered.  Sabrina still meets me regularly and contacts me on a weekly basis to make sure all is going well in the workplace and I find this helps me knowing that the support is still available if I feel things are getting on top of me.

I have been able to meet new people at my workplace and actually look forward to heading to work. I have been able to use my salary to help improve my flat and this has given me the feeling of great satisfaction and self worth. Without the Work Connect Programme and Sabrina’s support I don’t feel I would have been able to achieve any of this.