My name is John Donaghy. After many years working overseas in various electrical/electronic engineering roles and in many different environments, I returned to N. Ireland and hoped to settle in to a more routine life style as I had begun to recognise that things were not as they should be in relation to mental health issues. After years of trying to deal with what I thought was just a passing phase relating to settling down into a less ‘dynamic’, lifestyle, I had to admit that I was simply no longer coping and finally made an appointment with my GP who diagnosed depression. The medication prescribed had little effect and eventually after meeting with two different psychiatrists I was diagnosed with PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder and was told that there was no quick fix for this.
I was on long term incapacity benefit at the time and had been for about eight years, this length of time out of work became a burden as I was having no success with the numerous job applications I had made and of course the sense of low self-esteem/confidence began to reappear. Some time, after this, incapacity benefit was changed to ‘employment support’, and shortly after that an Interview was arranged at the local job centre where I explained my predicament and it was here that I found out about the work connect program. Within a few weeks I had met my advisor Robert and almost immediately things began to change for the better.
With Roberts guidance I changed a few things on my CV and started to look at different internet sites that I was previously unaware off and although at first job offers didn’t exactly start flooding in I was now starting to get a lot more responses and this fact plus meeting regularly with Robert to discuss how things were going helped significantly to rebuild important psychological factors such as self-esteem and self-confidence. Arrangements were also made for me to attend a CSR course paid for by the program, the completion of which was an important addition to my engineering qualifications. After about twelve weeks on the program I had my first job-interview for many years and I was fortunate enough to be successful. I have now been working for seven months as an engineering tutor/instructor. This job at the moment is part-time but it will soon be full time and even working part-time is so much better both financially and psychological to what went before.
The back to work support offered by Work Connect was also invaluable. Robert was able to advise me about certain benefits that were on offer from other government departments such as working tax credits which for me is a great supplement to my part-time wages. Another example of the excellent follow on support there was an electrical wiring course (17th Edition City& Guilds), Robert was able to secure half the funding for this and the other half was paid for by my firm, and like the CRS course is an important addition to my qualifications.
I doubt very much that without the Work Connect program I would be as far on as I now find myself with restored self-confidence and self-esteem not to mention some decent money going to the bank account. Therefore I have no hesitation in highly recommending this program especially to those unfortunate enough to find themselves listed as ‘long term unemployed.