As we welcome participants to our eighteenth Employment Preparation Programme, we share with you some of their experiences. We want to highlight how real the issues faced by those affected by homelessness are; how our participants come to join our programme and demonstrate the ways in which our Employment Academy provides the support and training necessary to get people back into lasting, good work.


Robert’s Story…

I began volunteering with Groundswell in 2018 as a Homeless Health Peer Advocate. Groundswell is a homeless health charity, and I undertook intense training to add to my own lived experience, which supported me to able to help homeless individuals address their health needs. I accompanied people to medical appointments, and where necessary, advocated on their behalf. Many homeless people have a fear of medical intervention and find health appointments distressing. I enjoy this work and I understand how much it is needed.

I am a trained Chef, but I have had issues with addiction which led me into homelessness. It was a very difficult period in my life. I decided things needed to change, and that I was the only person who could make it happen. Through Groundswell, I gained support and whilst volunteering with them I was given training which was vital in building my self-confidence and self-esteem. I was then introduced to the company BEAM who support people’s aspirations through crowd funding. They helped me to get funding which enabled me to start a qualification as a Chef Assessor. I was touched that people funded me even though they did not know me. The qualification was very hard work – but I passed, and now I have the chance to improve my life and that of others.

Although really excited about the future, I still felt that I needed some extra support to continue my path. Groundswell referred me to the House of St Barnabas; I met with Brian and Shelly online and was very excited by what they said, and I was invited to come to a recruitment day. I was offered a place on the programme a week after, and I was so happy to start my time at the House in the Employment Academy!

I have been really impressed with the Employment Preparation Programme at the House. The staff are very helpful, and the group of participants are all very nice. Being surrounded by both, I can feel my confidence rising every day! I will be carrying out my work experience in administration, which was a change of mind as I initially stated that I was interested in gaining experience in the House kitchen. I felt that having already worked in kitchens in the past, the admin role would offer me a broader set of skills that would be more beneficial to me.

The programme so far has been excellent, and I am thoroughly enjoying myself and learning a lot. In the near future, I would like to work as a Chef Assessor, but I’d also like to start my own business. I would like to help other people who have had struggles similar to mine and give them the support they need to get their lives back on track.

We work to provide people with the support and training they need to find lasting paid employment. To find out more about our Employment Preparation Programme, head – here.