The Building Bridges programme supports people across Swindon and Wiltshire who are facing 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. The programme is jointly funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery via the Big Lottery Fund. Fernando signed up to Building Bridges and was assigned to key worker – Andrea Moore in Wiltshire Councils Family Learning Team.

Can you tell us about your background and how you joined Building Bridges?

A number of events happened in my personal life which resulted in a negative impact on my mental health and I found myself homeless and unemployed before I knew how to stop it. I had worked since I left school and had a pretty good job in engineering, I had always provided for my family, my new situation was not like me. I was living in a homeless hostel and having to completely rebuild my life. I started seeking support for my mental health and moved into supported accommodation, I was getting my life back on track and wanted to get back into employment. I signed up to Building Bridges and began working with Andrea, we met regularly and talked about what it was I wanted to do and we were able to draw up an action plan which helped me focus on how to get there.

What were your next steps and how do you feel Building Bridges helped in the process?

I did not want to go back to the career I had done before, I wanted to use my recent experiences to help others. Although I had never done anything like this before I knew I wanted to make a difference and working with Andrea made me see I could.
Andrea helped me to secure a voluntary placement in a day centre for children with learning disabilities and I loved it. It helped me gain skills and experience and made me more determined. With Andreas support I contacted local organisations that worked supporting homelessness but could not get any further. So, Andrea spoke to Annette Holdsworth the Employer Engagement Officer on Building Bridges to see if she could help. Annette arranged a meeting for me with an organisation who provides supported accommodation so I could get a better understanding of the skills, qualifications and qualities they look for when they recruit support staff. The meeting was great I met a lady called Katy, who explained about her role, how she got into it and what I needed to do. She said I had the qualities, real-life experience and how that would be a benefit in this role, I came out feeling positive.

What was the end result and how is your journey going now

Annette rang me later that day to say they wanted to formally interview me for a paid position as a housing support officer. I couldn’t believe it! Annette and her colleague Bryony did some interview prep and I was ready. It is now six months on and I am a young person’s homeless support office (in training). I am supporting young people who have not always had the best start in life to gain skills and confidence and live independently. I am loving my job and colleagues. I can’t believe I have the job I was only dreaming of this time last year.

Annette Holdsworth –

I am so proud of Fernando his determination paid off, it was a real pleasure to part of his journey. I recently went to catch up with him at work and it seems like he has been there for ever, he is made for this role.

Fernando’s new manager said –

Fernando is part of the team he has fitted in well and has a great sense of humour which is needed in this line of work. He is confident and embraced everything we asked of him and with more experience I believe Fernando could even be a service leader.

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