Ten months ago Steve, 51, lost his eldest son in a freak accident. Overcome by grief and unable to cope, he started drinking heavily. A life time of using alcohol rapidly turned into a dependency as Steve tried to get through the days by shutting out his feelings with whiskey, starting with the bottle as soon as he woke up and continuing throughout the day.
Things quickly unraveled and Steve, who ran his own car valeting company, was remanded in custody after being picked up for his third drink driving offence. Fined, banned from driving for ten years and sentenced to 200 hours of Community Payback time, Steve was forced to close his business.
Now sober and determined to stay dry for the sake of his family, particularly his fatherless grandchildren aged five and seven, Steve is attending our Employability Service at Arnotdale House, Falkirk. The service is aimed at people who have been involved with the criminal justice system and need help to gain skills, qualifications and self confidence in order to find work.
The service involves participants attending all-day workshops once a week for a six-week period. During the workshops they develop general use skills such as how to write a CV or phrase a criminal disclosure letter for employers and they also attend one to one sessions which are tailored for the particular needs of each individual.
‘I’m working out what skills I already have and what jobs I could do in the future and getting new skills along the way,’ explains Steve from Grangemouth whose wife, a telephone sales rep for a major company, also left her job after their 28-year-old son’s death because she kept breaking down at work.
‘The employability service is really beneficial,’ says Steve who used to write his accounts by hand but is now learning how to use online spread sheets. ‘I’m thinking maybe I will aim to do something like events management. It’s something I would like to do.’
Jean Halliday, a trainer for the Employability Service, pointed out that the time spent attending the training sessions counts as part of offenders’ Community Payback Order. ‘We teach people where to go to get experience and how to find jobs. We encourage them to think about volunteering, something that very few people have thought of, and we help them see what they could do work-wise. Often it’s very difficult for people to realise that they already have skills that are transferrable.
‘A lot of people come in here full of doom and gloom and the change in them over the six weeks is quite exciting to see. Hopefully people will go on after they finish here and go to college or find a new job,’ says Jean.
The Employability Programme has been developed and funded in partnership with Falkirk Criminal Justice and Employment Training Unit.
For 50 years we’ve journeyed with thousands of people like Steve in tough realities, helping them transform their own lives for themselves, but there is still much to do.
Please donate to support our continued work in this, our 50th year.