From long term unemployed to coronavirus key worker

published on 2 Apr 2020

Peter* has been out of work for some time but he’s now ready to head to the frontline of the coronavirus crisis as a key worker in a supermarket. He’s been supported back into the workplace by Kathryn, who works for The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus service which helps people who have been out of work for a long period.

“I’m thrilled to be to helping Peter* as he prepares to start his new job as a Key Worker because I know he will be brilliant!”

Usually as an Employment Development Coordinator, Kathryn would meet people daily in different Salvation Army centres in North Wales to offer face-to-face support. Since the lockdown she’s moved her service online and over the phone to make sure she’s still helping people into work and training despite the crisis.

Over the past week, Kathryn has helped Peter* who is about to start work as a supermarket shelf stacker in Wrexham.  Peter hasn’t had a job for a while and Kathryn has helped rebuild his confidence as he is about to start this essential role as a Key Worker.  Kathryn has spent time on the phone with Peter ensuring he is fully aware of social distancing and additional personal hygiene considerations due to the coronavirus.  Kathryn will continue to check in with Peter in the coming days and weeks as he adjusts to being back in the workplace.

Another person getting a fresh start despite the coronavirus crisis is Mary* who is due to start an introductory level learning course in mental health at Glyndwr University.  Kathryn has helped Mary complete the necessary electronic forms to register for her course.  There have been a few technical hurdles to overcome since they could not currently meet face to face, including how Mary was able to demonstrate proof of benefits without access to a computer but Kathryn found a way to use a mobile phone screenshot with the necessary information.   

Another of Kathryn’s clients in the past week is Raj* who has been homeless and sleeping rough on the streets for about a year.  Raj has been able to visit a food bank but could not get food for his pet dog, his sole companion over the last year.  Raj receives Universal Credit but had no money to buy pet food while he waits for his next payment.  Kathryn was able to help Raj with a supermarket voucher to purchase dog food to tide them over until his money comes through.   

Kathryn said: “A big part of my role is working with people one to one, providing individualised support with whatever our clients need.  The majority of people we support need help filling in forms or accessing benefits online and that has been particularly challenging over the past week as many people don’t have access to the internet at home.  But with their consent, I have been able to liaise with jobcentres on their behalf, whilst on the phone to them, checking details and relaying information to people who are worried about their Universal Credit payments. 

“I have also spent time reassuring a lot of people who have been worried about not being able to get online to conduct job searches and also supporting employers who have had to temporarily close and where we have helped people into work recently.  So whilst we are working differently now, our work is still incredibly important for those needing our help.”

*names have been changed


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