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People Hub Case Study - Connector - Emma

At People Hub, we offer support for anyone needing assistance in finding a new job, returning to work or facing redundancy.

We also offer help with training, mental health, debt support, childcare and housing, knowing that each person who comes to us is an individual, and tailoring our services to their specific needs and goals as a necessity to help them reach their full potential.

This wouldn’t be possible without our Connectors, our customer-facing team who are on the frontline of support at People Hub. With their knowledge of jobs, training and other assistance in the areas of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, they have the ability to make sure that anyone who comes to us is connected to the best services for their needs. Empathetic and friendly, our Connectors work with our customers throughout their entire journey - you could consider them your very own cheerleaders!

Working with someone who comes to us for support is a long and rewarding process - read the experience of Emma, one of our Connectors, as she works with one of our customers, helping him towards a happier and healthier future.

When I first met Gary he was low in confidence and was completely unsure what he wanted to do. He had previously worked in a customer-facing role which was very busy, and often had confrontational customers. The hours were long and Gary had a lot of responsibility. He was made redundant due to the owner selling the business and he informed me that this was not something he wanted to do again. Gary no longer liked to be around lots of people, he didn’t enjoy working in customer service and was now becoming anxious even when leaving the house. This was a major barrier to him.

He was engaging with We Are With You to support him with his alcohol addiction, and he was suffering with depression. Gary had been a victim of crime where he was attacked by two men who fractured his skull, which had affected his confidence massively - Gary felt that this was a major factor in his anxiety in crowds and not wanting to leave the house. The isolation from the pandemic hadn’t helped, compounding his anxiety and fears but he was receiving support for this too.

Gary wanted to look at different job roles and consider roles where he would actually enjoy what he was doing rather than feeling dread and anxiety about it. Gary didn’t really have any hobbies that he could think of and struggled to think of what job he might like. We started to explore jobs that he could do from home while he built his confidence to leave the house.

We explored coding and Gary learnt the basics of the Python coding language, with a view to look into software/website design. As this got more complex, Gary realised it wasn’t something he wanted to continue with as it wasn’t feeling natural to him.

I set Gary the challenge of finding three jobs and training courses online (ignoring any barriers like location/qualifications) that piqued his interest. After a bit of research, we narrowed it down to creativity and photography. I suggested looking into animation as it was a chance to be creative with photography and filming, while also being very important in building up his confidence to leave the house, especially as photography required travelling outside the home.

Gary downloaded stop animation software onto his phone and began exploring filmmaking, using things around the house to produce simple films, which he then shared with me, saying he was enjoying being creative. This progressed and Gary started to buy pieces of equipment and materials to get different effects. He struggled with ideas for films, so I sent him some mock briefs to spark his creativity. I then asked him to do an advert animation for the People Hub. He made a really good mini animation which we used as part of a discovery film we were making, which Gary was very pleased about.

His confidence grew and he said he would like to look into taking this further. Gary then attended an Aardman Academy open day (founded by the makers of Wallace and Gromit) and was inspired by what he saw and heard. He looked into his story-boarding and improved his model making, buying himself armatures with his benefit money to develop his skills. He purchased an animation stage with some of his People Hub participant budget to enable him to make more professional skilled animations. He had been using an iPhone 4 up to this point, but he now needed something with more memory and better functions to create the effects he needed.

I contacted the digital inclusion team to organise use of a laptop so Gary could progress. He met one of the team face-to-face to collect the laptop - this person was a stranger, so Gary succeeded in pushing through his anxieties to meet with them, which was a great step forward.

We looked into courses with Aardman Animation and found a couple that he was really interested in. These courses would be able to build his skills, knowledge and techniques to make a professional portfolio with the idea to become self-employed as an animator in the future. We discussed his confidence using online platforms as training would be interactive and he would need these skills to meet with customers if they did not want face-to-face consultations. We organised several meetings using Microsoft Teams to help with his confidence using them. There were some teething problems with audio, but he managed to troubleshoot them and fix the problem using the skills he’d developed.

As well as having anxiety as a barrier, Gary had been having physical health appointments throughout his time with the People Hub, with investigations ongoing. He faced anxieties around the Covid vaccinations (due to a friend dying after a vaccination) and he also caught Covid and was very ill for 4 weeks. Despite all this, Gary continued to engage with the project and has made real progress towards his goals.

Gary said that he has been drinking less with something so positive to concentrate on. He still has doubts about his abilities but has seen the progress he has already made and hopes that pushing himself to complete a training course with Aardman Academy will add to his confidence. After completing the Model Making foundation course with Aardman Academy, Gary hopes to do some other training with them, funding dependent, with the goal of building a professional portfolio to become a self-employed animator. Once Gary feels he is ready, he will work with Outset Cornwall for support to become self-employed and start his own business.

When Gary received his first email about enrolling on the foundation course, he said “Thank you, this is the first time I have felt excited about anything in years!”

At People Hub, we understand that making positive change is a slow process, involving changing habits and thoughts that have formed over many years. During his time with us, Gary has made leaps and bounds in his personal and professional development, made all the more amazing when considering his health concerns and originally having no idea what he would like to do professionally. Now he’s on the road to a totally new career that inspires and challenges him, and we’re so happy to be part of his ongoing journey.

If you could benefit from support from one of our Connectors like Emma, get in touch with us, and let us show you the possibilities that are available to you. If you take that chance, you never know where you might end up!

We look forward to hearing from you and helping you become the person you were meant to be.

Talk to Us 0333 015 0699

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