J2E? I know you are thinking what exactly I am going on about here? well to put in simple‚ easy‚ understandable terms the J2E (Journey To Employment) program is a pilot program setup to help job seekers like myself who have Mental health issues‚ disabilities or other more advanced issues that make it hard to gain employment in the Derby & Derbyshire area.
Update: The program contract ended in September 2018 after nearly 2 years of operating.
So I want to share my experiences of this program and tell my story of the program which i finished not to long ago now.
In the Beginning….
I remember being referred to the program sometime ago by my advisor at my Local Job Centre Plus office who felt due to my personal anxiety and panic attacks wanted me to consider the program and as I have been on so many different courses and programs the Job centre has run I was immediately drawn to the fear of is this going to be another sergeant major style program where it was pretty strict and you had a set timetable of what was going to happen and how it was going to be done.
After maybe 5 minutes my advisor took me to see Greg from the provider of the J2E program who was at the Job centre office and after speaking to Greg I felt a lot more at ease as he had explained how the program worked and what it could help me with.
Like a watching Meerkat
After getting a courtesy call from Greg a few days later to see how I was doing and if I was still attending I said I was fine and said I would be attending my first J2E session later that week.
On attending my first session I immediately felt like I was a watching Meerkat‚ my anxiety was not only bothering me it was also causing me some distress due to the unfamiliar surroundings so I was more quiet than I normally am and just blocking most people out.
Thankfully after around 3 weeks in the group sessions I started to feel more secure in my surroundings and I felt able to open up towards the other people and Greg and also Community Action including one of the main people there Ejaz ( I hope I have spelt that right) and was able to communicate more effectively with him and started to really appreciate the open style feel to the session’s and feel alot more at ease.
Moving forward into my 6th week my anxiety was now low during the J2E sessions however a few external issues meant I was still suffering and I was doing everything possible to control these issues and not allow them to hinder what I was now getting involved in the group with helping others with CV’s (resume’s) and covering letters and offering support where I could.
With continued support from Greg ‚ Ejaz and their praise for what I was doing I now also started to feel my confidence start to return after being damaged extensively by the Jobcentre and being continually moved from advisor to advisor with no time to adapt or adjust and then being moved to a unfamiliar Job centre. Also around this time I started to speak with a Job centre member of staff who was starting to help with J2E users with things like travel expenses.
after fully completing my first CV (Resume) writing for one of the users and I started to feel that I had achieved something positive while I was on the J2E program and now my confidence was now starting to really grow again.
New friends and opportunities for change
Coming towards the end of my time on the J2E program I made the decision to effectively finish my time in the program and become a volunteer for the program instead and support Greg & Ejaz and continue to mentor and help in anyway I could with the program.
This also had another positive effect‚ I had started becoming further involved with my local Job centre including working with them participating in Focus Groups to allow other Jobseekers with there own mental health and disability issues and raise concerns with the people that matter as well as giving praise for the things being done right. I also around this time started helping Greg arrange team building outings and confidence building event’s. I have developed numerous new friendships as a result of this.
On closing – through my own experience I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get involved in the J2E program‚ it has allowed me to develop and to start rebuilding what was being eroded away and I cannot thank Greg‚ Ejaz and my contacts at the Job Centre‚ the teams at Community Action and J2E enough and I will continue to support J2E through my volunteering as long as i am able to do so.
Many thanks to Greg from the program provider for helping me get this blog post finished before releasing it here but i May just go over it and tweak things as needed.