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Making it in the job market – Mark’s Story

"I was anxious and found it difficult to communicate...I didn't do very well in interviews"

Mark was referred to Surrey Care Trust’s Gateway Garden to help provide structure to his week and give him a chance to develop his employment and communication skills through peer support. Mark was very anxious; he suffers with OCD which at times can be all consuming.  He has applied and attended countless job interviews but struggles with talking face to face and articulating how his barriers, anxiety and OCD, can impact him on a daily basis.

most employers are put off by this and I never get offered work.

Mark really wanted a job where they will accept him on his work capabilities and not how he is at interviews. His goals were to find part time employment and become less anxious about being around people in different environments.

Mark also struggles with decisions. When he first arrived at Gateway this was a big hurdle, he took a long time to reach a decision, often asking ‘which one do you think I should do?’ He started at the project weeding a very small patch that had no significant plants in as the worry of getting something wrong & digging something up that he shouldn’t made Mark incredibly anxious. We reassured him even if he did take out something that wasn’t meant to come out it really didn’t matter!

With his OCD Mark also worried that jobs were taking too long as he had to be completely thorough. Again, reassurance was given that this didn’t matter.

We slowly saw his confidence grow & paired him up with other project users to work with. This meant Mark could ask advice on what to do and what plants should stay in or come out. He started interacting and talking with other clients, having a coffee break etc – he enjoys talking to people when he is working.

Mark completed many jobs: planting vegetables, aerating the lawn, emptying & turning the contents of the compost bins, raking up grass cuttings, digging out dock plants, wildflower meadow preparation, making bug houses. He went on from working 1:1 with his peers to working confidently in small groups. He found planting and digging very therapeutic and rewarding.

Like all other project users, Mark would always have a choice of jobs to carry out from the jobs board. It was always his decision what to do and we would leave him to reach a decision on his own. This would take a long time at the start but over time his decision-making process became independent & much quicker.

Mark would also find it hard to be punctual for the sessions. We talked about his morning routine and how he can use his time more efficiently to be on time. Arriving on time this gave him a big boost in his self-esteem and self-belief which he then built on. Timekeeping is a skill he had to improve before getting a job. His OCD prevents him leaving the house early, but he has managed to adapt it to become punctual.

Social interaction is the area where we have seen most improvement with Mark. Not only will this be hugely beneficial in the workplace, but it is a skill he can continue to grow in his personal life

Thanks to this I now have a job but I know the team are still around if I need them.

More information about how we help people into employment can be found here.

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