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Employment

‘After 200 rejections, Big Issue Recruit helped me land the ideal job for me’

After spending two years as the sole-carer of his daughter, Lee Boydon’s confidence was low. Big Issue Recruit reminded him of everything he had to offer

When Lee Boydon’s ex-partner went to prison, his life, and his daughter’s, were flipped upside down. He became the sole carer for his daughter, who was just nine at the time. 

“I wanted to give 100% to my daughter at that time,” he told the Big Issue. “Having her mum in jail is a lot for a child to take on.” 

Boydon, 34, had worked as a self-employed labourer for years, but the work was unreliable and sporadic, sometimes demanding he work late in good weather, and have work cancelled when it rained. It wasn’t the type of work that can be juggled alongside taking sole responsibility for a child, so he was forced to give it up. 

Boydon, who has three other children, spent two years out of work while caring for his daughter. 

“It changed a lot in life. It put me into a different sort of category. I was used to being out and working all the time, so it sort of made me not as confident,” he explained. 

It’s very common for new parents who have taken time off after the birth of a child to describe anxiety and low-confidence when returning to work, there’s even a term for it – ‘the confidence gap’. The internet is full of resources for employers to support staff to ‘return to work with confidence’ after a period of maternity and paternity leave, but for Boydon, who had no stable job to return to, things felt more complex. 

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When his partner was released from prison, Boydon started looking for jobs.

“I was applying for jobs all the time,” he said, “but I always seemed to get the same response: ‘We’re looking into it’ and then ‘you haven’t been successful’. Maybe it was the jobs I was applying for – I was applying for bar work, kitchen work, all sorts.

“I must have over 200 [job] rejections in my emails.” 

At the Jobcentre Plus, Boydon found the job coaches “alright” but felt like they had little time for him as a person. New research from the Institute for Employment Studies and abrdn Financial Fairness Trust found that work coaches spend more time monitoring job seekers than helping them with their work goals.

Simultaneously, The Public and Commercial Services Union’s (PCS) has spoken out about the increasingly high workload placed on Jobcentre Plus work coaches, who must meet with an increasingly high number of claimants in person as the DWP increases this conditionality on claimants. 

Benedetti was referred to Shak Dean, a job coach with Big Issue Recruit through the Jobcentre Plus, and found his persistence in working together refreshing.

“I found Shak was more helpful,” said Boydon. “We actually talked about what I’m good at, what I could improve on, what would bring back my confidence. Shak’s got a good aura about him.” 

Boydon had little experience in formal interviews, and even found the prospect of a video call with Dean to be somewhat anxiety-inducing. 

“I felt a bit of anxiety, a bit fidgety, even just going on the Teams meeting with Shak, but in the second one I was feeling better. And then I brought the confidence from those meetings to the job interview,” he said. 

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Dean suggested he apply for a role as a drivers mate with C&C Park Royal, a role Boydon had never even heard of before, let alone thought himself capable of. 

“When I met Lee I loved his upbeat attitude and desire to better his life. He really wanted to get into sustainable work to improve his financial situation and, more importantly for him, provide a positive role model for his children,” said Shak Dean.

“I assisted Lee in putting his CV together and made the application on his behalf. We then had interview preparation sessions to get him ready. He smashed the interview and was offered the position.”

Boydon is set to start his new role as a driver’s mate soon. “Driving around means I’m not in the same place, I’m getting my hands in there, and getting good communication skills. I think it’s a good role for me and I’m excited to get stuck in,” he said. 

He’s already thinking about the next step of getting a HGV driving licence to progress in the role. Plus, with the job starting early in the morning and finishing around 3pm, he’ll be able to enjoy time with his family, too. 

Big Issue Recruit is a specialist recruitment service, dedicated to supporting people who face barriers to joining the workforce into sustainable employment. It is a person-centred service and free to candidates, supporting individuals pre-, during and post-employment.

On signing up, candidates are partnered with a personal job coach to understand their needs and goals, build confidence, skills and resilience and coach them through the selection process, to secure the roles that are suitable for them – meaning that employers can find the right candidate who is more likely to stay in the position for longer.

Job coaches work with candidates post placement, to establish a good relationship with their new employer and support them to thrive in their new role.

Nearing its one-year anniversary, Big Issue Recruit is well on course in its mission to bring people from a more diverse range of backgrounds into the job market. Big Issue Recruit has supported 109 candidates in their job search, put 80 jobseekers forward for interviews, and enabled 43 people to secure positive employment.

To find out how Big Issue Recruit could help you into employment, or help your business to take a more inclusive approach to recruitment, click here.

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