“If it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t be here” – Desmona
Desmona was employed for 10 years before the company she was working for folded and she was made redundant. It was a shock to the system, she tells us: ‘I left school early but I have always worked, and not having a job felt awful’.
By the time it got to Christmas, things became really difficult. Desmona was living through winter with little or no food, no heating or electricity, and surviving on the kindness of neighbours to bring her something to eat. Feeling more and more distressed, her employment support worker, recommended Liz came on board to provide more intensive and emotional support as she continued to look for work.
“When I met Liz, I just knew immediately that she would be someone who’d bring positivity into my life. She was like a sister to me.”
“Liz calmed me. She came just at the right time. If she hadn’t, I really think I would have ended things”.
At first, Desmona had been given lots of practical advice and support. Her employment support worker trained her to use the computer and CV Library, and she slowly gained confidence using them. When Liz came along, she knew it wouldn’t be long before a job came along as she was getting interviews, going through 20 before finally securing a job.
But there were many other things that made the process difficult and had been taking an extremely emotional toll. Going to bed hungry and in the cold was tough enough. Then, one day her boiler broke down, flooding her entire flat and her neighbour’s flat below. “That boiler had been breaking down for three years and they never fixed it properly. That day, when I saw the water coming down, I was so shocked and upset – I didn’t know what to do. I called Liz, who supported me that night and then advocated for me with my landlord. She wrote a complaint letter and pushed them to replace my boiler with a new one.”
“But it wasn’t just that. If I needed someone to talk to, she was there. If I needed money for food or for the bus, she helped me secure a grant or provided a bit of money for my Oyster card. I know that any issue, big or small, is as important to Kineara as the next one. And this is something that I really appreciated.”
“I don’t know what I would have done without her. You guys saves lives, you really do”.
Desmona looks at the struggles she faced getting another job as a learning experience for her. “It was an education. Learning to be patient, learning to be positive, learning to be professional – it was all an education. I struggle with literacy so even writing up my CV, or applications to jobs, was like going back to school because there was so much to learn. But I just stayed positive and tried to remember that if I keep putting in the effort, a job will come.”
Now, she is working two different jobs in cleaning, which is what she was doing before. “I am loving it – just getting up in the morning and going out, doing my work, talking to people, all of it”
She also has plenty of advice for other people who find themselves in similar situations. “I would tell people that you can get a job, and there are people out there to help. But you must believe in yourself and believe it will happen”.