Nicola Byron, 29 from North Ayrshire, joined the Fair Start Scotland service as she struggled with finding work as a single parent suffering from anxiety and depression. Nicola was teamed up with our partners, The Lennox Partnership, here she blogs about her journey with them.
About me and my barriers to employment
As a full-time, single parent suffering from anxiety and depression, finding work was incredibly difficult.
I had a few barriers to employment including what I’ve mentioned above, but the main thing I found was my own lack confidence and self-worth. My CV wasn’t where it needed to be and the long employment gap meant employers overlooked me when I knew I could and would be a great employee.
My job centre advisor said she couldn’t do any more for me as I was more than able to work and mentioned a new initiative starting called Fair Start Scotland that she felt would help me progress further.
How Fair Start Scotland helped me
I felt immediately at ease at my first meeting with my Key Worker, Carol. It felt like I’d met a friend who understood me and what I was going through.
She took the time to get to know me, supported me through a truly traumatic time when I felt I couldn’t go to anyone else and helped me find support for issues with my daughter.
It felt like she went above and beyond her job description but she was there every step of the way, and without question.
Carol found me training courses, online advice platforms and built my confidence and resilience which I honestly feel is why I’m where I am now.
Getting into work
I am now employed full-time in a job. I never thought this was possible for me.
On leaving Fair Start Scotland my anxiety and depression have been almost non-existent and my confidence is at a level I’ve never experienced, I feel worthy for the first time in my adult life.
That’s not to say I’m totally out of the woods. I’ve relapsed with my mental health but my advisor is still there at the end of the phone whenever I need her.
I have accomplished things I never thought possible such as radio interviews, being interviewed for promotional material and attending a conference with work - all of which I would have immediately refused before Fair Start Scotland.
I have also been given the amazing opportunity of attending The Royal Garden Party in July at Holyrood Palace. I can’t believer how far I’ve come.
Obviously, I want to stay in employment, but a few other goals have also changed dramatically. As someone who struggles with mental health and having been long-term unemployed my main and long term goal is to in some way help people just like me to realise their own potential and help them overcome any issues they may have, I want people to have the opportunity to feel the way I feel now.