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Overcoming anxiety and getting the perfect job

Brandon project leader, Samantha, works with young people who experience barriers into employment. In partnership with the Going the Extra Mile (GEM) project, she supports people to tackle the challenges that come with disability and social isolation.

I first met Kira, in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown in May 2020. This was a huge challenge in itself because face-to-face meetings were restricted. Our first few months of work was all done via video call and Zoom meetings. It certainly wasn’t ideal, but I had to find a way to make it work so Kira could get the best out of her support.

Severe anxiety

At 19, she had completed her GCSEs and A-levels with A* grades and was waiting to start college. Kira suffers with severe mixed anxiety which causes her to shut down and socially withdraw, as well as depression. She really wanted support to try and find ways to manage it so she could find a part-time job.

Together, we completed all the paperwork and I introduced her to the online GEM sessions. She attended all the employability sessions, interview skills, job search tips, mock interviews, and confidence building sessions. She also enjoyed our wellbeing sessions using art to combat her anxiety.

Once lockdown restrictions eased, we arranged to meet up, making sure we followed social distancing guidelines and wore face masks. We met in a local pub. It was then that I realised just how severe her anxiety was. Even asking for a drink, was out of the question. We had planned to go to a local shop to get an application form as they were advertising a weekend vacancy, but I understood this was unlikely to happen at that time.

Supporting each other

As Kira struggled so much in social settings, I needed to work out how I could help her. I support a few young women who have similar barriers and other things in common, so I created a WhatsApp group for the four of us so we could chat about anything and support each other.

It worked really well, and I was able to take a small step back from the group and let them chat amongst themselves. Kira and I continued to job search and I saw an advert for a part-time job which I felt she would be perfect for.

Explore Learning

It was with Explore Learning, as an English and maths tutor for younger children. Kira had previously helped when I was working with Albert and we were facing the challenge of lockdown learning, so I knew how good she would be at it.

We continued to meet for coffee, and she seemed to be gaining confidence. We were thrilled when she was offered a video interview, but unfortunately, I was then admitted to hospital for an operation.

Thankfully, with support from our WhatsApp group, she managed to attend the interview and was quickly offered a second interview, face-to-face. Kira explained her anxieties to the interviewer and that she may not be very good during the second interview however, Kira’s interview was a big success and she was offered the job.

Flourishing in her new role

Our next mission was to make contact with the college to see what support they could offer Kira when she started in September. We had meetings with the student support lead and Kira was reassured that they provide so much support for students who have any kind of barriers, and set up meetings with Kira during the weeks running up to her start date.

Kira then started her work training. Her employer was so pleased and couldn’t believe that she had never tutored before. After training, she began tutoring the children and truly flourished in the new role.

Since starting her college course, Kira is coping very well despite the disruption of further lockdowns, and has also made new friends.

Supportive space

I know Kira is still working hard to overcome her social anxiety. We still chat regularly and the WhatsApp chat continues to provide a safe, encouraging, and supportive space for our little group.

Well done Kira I’m so very proud of you.

Samantha Mullaney 
Project Leader

Could you help someone like Kira?

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