Layla

Working in Clean Sheet’s Employment Team – what it’s really like!

27th August 2018

 

Part of the joy of working for Clean Sheet is the variety.  The variety of members we work with, the variety of their backgrounds and stories, the variety of skills and experiences they have and the variety of support we can offer.  No two days are ever the same because we are working with people, real people and the fact that we not only accept this but wholeheartedly embrace it is what makes Clean Sheet different.

Part of our success in finding employment for members is that we form genuine relationships.  We are not just there to match skill sets.  We try to take the time to boost confidence and morale; cheering members through the highs of life and being an understanding and sympathetic ear in the lows.   We care for them and take time to find out what is going on in their lives.  We know that the process of finding employment is so much more than filling out forms, meeting targets and forming statistics.  For a member to be in the best position to resiliently apply dozens of times for jobs, to bounce back when there is a rejection, to have the confidence and belief that someone, somewhere out there wants you and all that you have to offer is really, really tough.  Our aim is to try and help our members get to that point, a point that many other job groups expect members to be at straight away.

Some members take very little time; they are eager, driven, educated and experienced, present themselves well and can slot into a job easily.  Others face many more struggles. They come not only with all the difficulties that led them into prison in the first place, but the psychological impact of surviving prison itself. They have few qualifications, have never known what it is to feel supported or valued, perhaps struggle with communication and need patience, grace and understanding when they occasionally get things wrong. They take a lot of time.  But they are oh so worth it. 

I recently went on holiday for a week.  It was a lovely time to switch off with my family and enjoy camping (if those two words can ever sit together!) and a week of relaxing at the beach.  But in my heart and mind I often thought of our members. Because building relationships means that I don’t stop thinking about them when the working day is done.  I reflect on the members where I often think “there but for the grace of God go I”.  Where I know that if my life had been just that little bit different, I could be walking in their shoes.  I consider how I would like to be treated if our paths were the same.  I pray for them when I know they have a job interview or when their housing has fallen through or when they are simply finding life tough. 

I was waiting with anticipation upon my return as to whether a few of them had received good news from job interviews that had taken place the week before.  And I was absolutely overjoyed to hear that one had.  I punched the air, sent him an email of congratulations and shared it straight away with the team because I knew they would all be thrilled.  Not because we had ticked a box and added another number.  But because this man’s life had changed in a way that would give him the best chance in staying on the right track.

In my full inbox when I returned was another email, one from a member who had finally moved out of hostel accommodation to a place of his own.  It wasn’t a job, it wasn’t even a notification that he had applied for anything, but I was equally pleased to read it.  It is another step in this man’s journey to a Clean Sheet – a fresh start, a new hope and a second chance.  Whatever that looks like, whether it is the final stage of a longed-for job, or simply that someone has found the courage to be able to walk into town a week after release when the world still feels alien and confusing, I smile and am happy and I know that we are so much more than a recruitment agency.   


Layla is a member of the Clean Sheet Employment Team

Email: info@cleansheet.org.uk
Telephone: 0300 123 3045

Registered office: PO Box 306, Plaistow Street, Lingfield RH7 9BA
Clean Sheet is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation
Registered Charity Number 1154034

 


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