The Building Bridges programme supports people across Swindon and Wiltshire who are facing significant challenges in being able to develop their skills, access education or move towards the world of work. Taking part in the programme is entirely voluntary and all the advice and support is offered free of charge.
We asked Jack* about his background and work history.
I was born with defective optic nerves resulting in me having minimal vision, then I lost my hearing at age five after contracting measles and tick bite fever. Despite my disabilities I’ve never been one to sit at home and miss all the fun – I have always done things like hike in the mountains with family and friends, go horse riding, swim in the sea.
I studied Accounting and Economics at University then moved over to the UK to try and make a better life for myself. I worked at HSBC for fifteen years – it started as a three-month work experience placement that I had accessed through the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, this was extended twice, before I was offered a permanent role. I worked at a variety of locations over the years in different departments/business areas. My last role was a fraud analyst which I really enjoyed as it was very challenging and never the same each day. Sadly, four years into that role I was made redundant and was struggling to get back into employment until I joined the Building Bridges programme despite having valuable experience and skills.
What barriers do you feel you have faced in gaining paid employment?
Mobility and communication – as I have a dual disability which makes it difficult/impossible to access environmental information and get about safely. Also communicating with people is very challenging. But once people have met me and understand how to communicate with me they find it’s not all that difficult and it doesn’t affect my work.
Now you are in a paid placement can you tell us what you do and what made you sign up to Building Bridges?
I work in the Performance and Information team within Wiltshire Council Children’s Services. I help to keep on top of business as usual, I produce weekly and monthly performance and monitoring reports as well as deal with queries from colleagues in other teams.
I had heard about Building Bridges from a friend and felt it was worth a shot, especially after he mentioned Building Bridges had links with Nationwide. With my background in banking I thought opportunities at the Nationwide might be more suitable for me if they could accommodate me at my local branch – even if it was a head office role it’s sometimes possible to do the job remotely from a branch.”
What advice would you give to others considering joining the programme and what are your plans for the future?
Go for it – Building Bridges is great for boosting confidence and you get valuable feedback and advice, all of which helps with applications and interviews. I will be looking for a permanent job towards the end of this placement, preferably something based near to home so I could be completely independent getting to/from work; if something suitable within the Council does crop up before then though I will apply for it.
*named changed to protect participant
Building Bridges is a partnership of organisations, led by Community First, that has come together to deliver the Building Better Opportunities Programme across Swindon and Wiltshire.
The project has received up to £3.9M of funding from the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, via the Big Lottery Fund, as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding