Christine was referred to Employ Your Mind (EYM) by her Occupational Therapist (OT). Initially Christine thought the course was purely about people getting back to work, and she didn’t think this would be the right course for her due to both her mental and physical health problems.
Christine had previously been referred to a therapy group, which she describes as a negative experience as participants were encouraged to speak about difficulties they faced, and she assumed that EYM would be similar. Despite these initial worries, Christine decided that she would attend the first EYM appointment and find out more for herself.
Christine was supported by her OT to her first EYM meeting. She describes feeling very anxious as she was worried about having to meet new people, and thought she would have to talk about her mental health and that people would judge her on this. However, Christine says that the reality of this meeting was that the EYM Learning Coach made her feel very welcome, she was under no pressure to speak about her mental health and she actually felt excited about being given this opportunity to join the course.
As she progressed with the phase 1 appointments, Christine started to feel comfortable enough to start talking to the Learning Coach about some of her difficulties and concerns about attending EYM. One of her biggest concerns was coming together as a group and meeting new people, however staff provided reassurance on this and spent time talking through different strategies she could use to enable her to cope. At this stage she also felt that due to her physical health problems that attending 3 sessions a week would be too much for her, but staff provided reassurance that they would support her to attend as often has possible.
Once the group sessions started Christine was surprised how quickly she settled in. She was contributing to group discussion and activities, and was surprised by how much she was enjoying the sessions and how quickly each one passed.
Approx. 4 months into the course Christine faced some very difficult personal circumstances which had a big impact on both her physical and mental health. Due to feeling overwhelmed during this period, she initially felt that leaving EYM was her only option. Christine was encouraged by EYM staff, her OT and her mum to try and keep attending. With the correct level of support and encouragement she continued to attend, and describes the course as being a very welcome distraction from this difficult period, and that she surprised herself that despite all that she was going through, she still continued to attend.
Towards the end of the course, Christine felt confident enough to undertake a work experience placement so that she could gain her SQA Steps to Work qualification. During the initial placement planning stages, she decided that she would like to try and return to vocal coaching which is something she had previous experience in. She had previously volunteered with a local charity who provide a range of creative activities for young people including music practice and recording. EYM staff contacted the organisation, and a work placement was set up, whereby Christine was providing vocal coaching sessions to small groups.
Christine was very anxious about going back, as she felt she had maybe been out of vocal coaching for too long. However with full support from EYM staff, she was welcomed back and describes the experience as being positive and not nearly as bad as she thought. The opportunity made her realise she was enjoying meeting new people and this is something that she would previously worry about. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 lockdown Christine had to stop her placement temporarily, but is hoping to go back when government guidelines allow it.
On asking Christine to summarise her experience at EYM she said:
“The best part of the course for me was how helpful, relaxed and approachable all the staff were. Their encouragement and support, enabled me to open up more, make new friends, develop new skills and for me to become a lot more aware of who I am as a person.
I was surprised by how very quickly I felt comfortable and welcome, and the kindness of the staff just oozed out. During lockdown EYM staff have phoned me every week, and again I am appreciative of their support during this time.
I didn’t come to EYM with any particular goals, however once I completed the group sessions it made me realise that I am a lot more capable than I initially thought, and I left the course feeling like I could conquer the world. I would definitely recommend EYM to others and my advice would be to not let your insecurities and anxieties get in the way, but just DO IT!”
Hi my name is Brian, and I suffered/suffer from IBS triggered by anxiety which left me stuck in house unable to leave. Because without knowing where a toilet was available, I felt panicked and even knowing there was a toilet available I did not feel comfortable to use it in public. So the life I was living for the past 6 years, was no life I wanted, it was no life at all.
Having three sons and a strong and patient partner, it helped my mind stay strong. I wanted to get better, I wanted to support them, and I wanted them to look up to me as they once did. My family gave me the strength I needed to be able to want to get help.
With the help and support I was receiving from Occupational Therapy, I showed up to Fife IPS the day before my first appointment (in the days before Covid19 when you could do this!), so I wouldn't feel so anxious when I turned up alone. The people were not expecting me, but opened the door to me, they were very kind and understanding to the issues I have and made me feel very comfortable and told me where toilets were. That made returning the next day much more relaxing.
I met my Employment Specialist who was kind and understanding and didn’t want me to feel rushed into anything. The first few meeting where just filling in paperwork and chatting to get to know each other and it made me feel more open to talk to someone new.
This one day a week meeting was my goal to start with, as it was far enough away to push me to get out of the house. I had no vehicle so a 20 minute walk away from home was a big step. As the weeks past the goals changed and now I was filling in a CV, I had never written one as the last job I had I was there 11 years but I didn’t feel pressured or rushed. My Employment Specialist helped me where he could and helped me get what I wanted to get over to an employer on paper. I was happy with the CV but I knew what the next step would be.
At no point was there pressure added, there was no mention of timescale, my Specialist also offered to help me further, to try and get further away from home on buses and to go for coffee to further help my therapy work.
I knew why I was here so I made the decision to start the next step I wanted to work, I wanted my life back and my specialist helped me feel this could happen, with support and encouragement we set new goals. Applying for jobs, my specialist was helping me while I was with him applying for jobs, and when I was at home I was applying and sending information back to him via email. Every morning I would check the jobsites and apply for something.
It was at Fife IPS where the next chapter would unknown to me take place, whilst looking through sites we found a job for woodwork - not thinking it would happen as the 20 before hadn't so we applied for it and others. Checking closing dates, the times had closed, so carried on searching until a new number turns up on my phone. Scared i answered it," Are you still looking for work" wow I say yes and the interview was set for the next day. I turned up, was honest and explained everything about my condition, they were glad I told them then I got shown around and met the staff. I knew I wanted to be here. At the end of interview, I was offered the job and got a start date.
Going on 6 weeks and loving the work I began being part of something which helped with my finances help too. The work is hard. I’m aching everywhere but at the end of the day I feel good. Making friends and having people to talk to is good. I haven’t missed a day and I’m doing overtime -as much as is offered. I am at work more than I am at home which makes being home even more special. Catching the bus was a struggle for first few weeks but with the first pay check I passed my CBT test and managed to get a motorbike. Now I have my independence I’m not waiting for anyone to help me. I can go anywhere and my anxiety has dropped so much.
While I have been on my journey there has always been a lifeline on my phone that is the Fife IPS team who would always be there if I had a bad day or was struggling to get to work, or just checking in to say hi. Giving encouragement and praise of how well I’m doing. He would always help my day be that much better, this hasn’t stopped I still go to Fife IPS for catch up when I can and they do not stop the quality of service just because you’re working. That is everything to me and I’m sure whoever embarks on their own journey will feel the same.
"I have learned to break the cycle of dark thoughts that I have, FEAT have shown me a great way to change my thought process and change my outlook on life"
"I feel FEAT's Mindfulness course is allowing me to live my life with much more ease and acceptance in turn giving me hope for the future, for a calmer and more enjoyable life."
“I have a feeling and sense of positivity and the notion that I can overcome my obstacles. FEAT helped me increase my self-awareness and feel as though I have become more empowered and in control of my own future.”
“I have realised my strong points which are my driving force for the future…I am more focused and have a more positive outlook in life”
“I have increased self-awareness, confidence and sense of hope.”
"FEAT do great work and I am incredibly grateful and very happy to have been a part of it. Their programmes help people to help themselves.”
NHS Mental Health Professionals: “Lots of our patients have been discharged whilst doing the programme because they really are ready to move on."
“One woman we referred had been a carer for her mother for a long time and was practically a hostage: she had very few opportunities to do her own thing, then her mother passed away and after support through FEAT, she’s been holding down a volunteering position for several months.”
“Another man had been through several Occupational Therapy groups and we were struggling to know what to do with him next. He had no confidence and awful anxiety which meant he had been stuck for years. We referred him to FEAT and it was amazing to see him make a presentation to a room full of people. He is now looking to work within the NHS.”
Dr Clare Reeder, King's College, London, "FEAT have the most innovative, forward thinking and well developed CRT (cognitive remediation therapy) programmes I've seen, certainly in the UK, but actually across the world."
Dr Jean McQueen, Independent Evaluator of Fife IPS Service, October 2018: "Clients and employers interviewed as part of the review spoke positively of the service. Clients welcomed the personalised nature of the support given and the in-work action plans the service helped then develop. They spoke freely about how the service has helped build resilience, confidence and coping mechanisms. Clients valued time spent dealing with the stress of interviews, how to cope on your first day of work, explaining gaps in their employment history, dealing with the financial aspects and benefits. The service has impressive job outcomes reporting a 57% job conversion rate. Employers valued the relationship they developed with the staff and this has helped them to adopt strategies that will help clients recruited sustain employment. Fife IPS Service has reached the "exemplary" status."
Stephen Gethins, MP for North East Fife, "FEAT does great work supporting local people with mental health issues, in particular, into work and skills development, and I know this work is a key priority in Fife Council’s Economic Development Strategy."
Amy is 16 years old and was referred to Employ your Mind (EYM) by her link person at the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), following an unsuccessful attempt at a CAMHS Anxiety Management Group. She had not been attending school for approx. 2 years due to severe anxiety, where she found it difficult to be around people her own age and could find it difficult to leave her home. As a result Amy relied on her mum taking her places. Amy began to attend the phase 1 appointments at EYM, which involved her mum committing to a return trip of 90mins for Amy to be able to attend.
Amy could identify her anxieties, and knew she was having difficulty being around people of her own age, and very much felt that the option of employment or education was something that she would be unable to cope with.
Her NHS link person was keen to support her work on some ‘bus training’ to enable her to become more independent and socially active, however Amy was reluctant to work through this.
Throughout EYM Amy grew in confidence and with time and support, began to feel more comfortable being around other people her age. She was committed to attending the course and as a result had excellent attendance and became a lot more focussed on goals she had set herself. She was keen to work towards learning to drive, but anxious about the process that this involved. One of her biggest barriers was around the theory test. She was confident about her driving knowledge but was experiencing a lot of anxiety around having to go to an unknown environment and be surrounded by people who would be her own age. EYM staff worked on coping strategies learned in CRT, that she could use to help her through this part of the test.
Within 3 months, Amy had passed not only her theory test but also driving test, and bought herself a small car. She began to reflect on the process of learning, feeling anxious but working with these feelings and the importance of not avoiding or distancing herself form her hopes and goals. Very quickly she began to identify that her confidence had grown, and she had new independence, however she began to realise a car was an expensive commodity. As a result this motivated Amy to begin to consider employment and see this as a real option for her - something which she believed she could now achieve, and as a result began to look into part time paid positions.
At the start of EYM, discussing a work experience placement with Amy appeared to heighten her anxiety, however as she continued on the course, she started to say that she would like to try a placement and was keen to be working with animals. Amy started her placement working at a Cat Shelter- initially needing support from staff to attend, but very quickly being able to attend independently and only requiring encouragement. During her time on placement she has demonstrated that she is reliable and a lot more confident at being around and speaking to others. She has also been able to drive herself to her placement which is approx. 30mins drive from her home town, and she has pushed herself out her comfort zone. Both Amy and her parents have identified the positive changes she has experienced over recent months, and that she feels she has more direction for her future.
“Sarah is a changed girl since starting the EYM course last year, she is so much more confident and has a focus on her future and knows what she wants to do. She had a college interview today and has been offered a place. The interview process alone would have been unthinkable before FEAT. She is keen to do a work placement and also her lifeguarding course. She is looking forward to being a mentor and helping other young people on the EYM course. Hopefully she will have the time!!!! She has sent away for her provisional driving licence and can’t wait to learn. She has been able to visit to school nurse at the doctor’s surgery and catch up on all her missed inoculations which she couldn’t face before. You have all turned Sarah’s life around and helped her find a positive path. I have never doubted Sarah’s ability, but now she can see this for herself and seeing her with this confidence and focus for the future is amazing. Thank you all so much for your time and effort. It is appreciated so much.”
“Very positive impact. I am pleased with David’s progress. Medications have helped also tremendously and he is now quite looking forward to going to college, whereas before he would not entertain the thought at all! But he was very ill at that point in time. He has gained much confidence over the past year also and I am very grateful for the impact of EYM and CAMHS – thank you all very much. David too has enjoyed his time at FEAT and I am sure he will be quite sorry to leave!”
Copyright © 2018 Fife Employment Access Trust - All Rights Reserved.
Fife Employment Access Trust - Company Limited by Guarantee, Registered in Scotland, Company no. SC394284.
Scottish Charity No. SCO22263
WINNER: SME NEWS UK ENTERPRISE AWARDS : Most Dedicated Mental Health Employment Services Charity 2020
WINNER: the Centre for Social Justice Awards 2019 in the Work Category
FINALIST in the scottish charity awards terrific trustee (Brian robertson) category 2020
Finalist in the 2019 Fife Business Awards in the Excellence in Creativity and Innovation Category
Finalist in Kingdom FM Local Hero Awards 2018 for Best Community Group
Recruiter Magazine UK Charity of the Year 2016 : Fife Voluntary Sector Award Winner for Partnerships 2014 & 2016;
Runner-up Herald Society Awards 2014; Runner-up GlaxoSmithKline Impact Awards 2017
Healthy Working Lives : Bronze Medal Holders
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