Sharon, who is over 50, had an accident that left her in pain and out of work. During this time, she felt horribly incapacitated and lonely. When she felt able, she returned to work. However, she struggled to fulfil the needs of her job and her employer seemed to have little understanding or empathy for her needs. She started looking and applying for other jobs but wasn’t successful and couldn’t help but feel that this was partly because of her age and partly because she was out of work for 15 months following her accident.
At this time, Sharon applied for a job with Learning Links. Even though Sharon was unsuccessful, we encouraged her to become a volunteer member of the Employment Panel in order to share her own personal experiences of finding work.
The Employment panel members use their experiences, skills and knowledge to identify factors which impact on social isolation and employment for older people on the Isle of Wight. Sharon’s main barrier to employment had been her health and the transition back into employment following her accident. She had some very interesting views and experiences to share.
At each meeting Sharon happily discussed her experiences and compiled information for the Steering Group Meeting. This was a fantastic way for her to be heard and listened to in a friendly and informative environment. It was also a chance for her to meet other people that could understand what she was going through.
Sharon’s experiences means she has great insight into the essential needs of those who are housebound and in need of practical support. Sharon approached AGE UK and explained that she’d like to work for them as a Support Assistant. She felt apprehensive as she didn’t know if she’d be able to manage physically, but AGE UK have been particularly supportive and appreciative of her needs, and ensured that it works for her. She is on a zero hour contract but for Sharon this is a positive way forward as it gives her great flexibility. Sharon is offered hours on a weekly basis and can decline new clients if she already has commitments or feels her health is suffering. This is not something she’d be able to do on a fixed contract.
Additionally, she has been successful in gaining further part time employment working for a PR company so she can continue to utilise her administrative skills.
Sharon is kindly going to continue attending the Employment Panel meetings, when possible, in the hope that other attendees can learn from her experiences in a positive way. Well done Sharon, we are proud of all you have achieved.
Visit /learn for more information on how we support the over 50s on the Isle of Wight >>