After coming to Evolve as a customer, one of the first things I did was look into getting professional training and a work coach through their Work + Learning programme. When I got in touch, one of the first things they asked me was: what are you passionate about?
Often you don’t know the answer to that until you try things, but it was the right question to start with. To find out I took several training courses, including in business, art, and design. They opened my mind to doing something more creative, and with skills I learned I started a catalogue and began designing a video game.
Alongside that I got a job with social enterprise Ethstat Ethical Stationery CIC, and work with them to provide opportunities for other people at Evolve too. I really enjoy bridging that gap between people and work – I can change lives, what’s better than that?
If doing work that you’re passionate about sounds obvious, maybe you haven’t spent much time at a job centre. Some people have great experiences with them, but I know for many of us they’re not concerned about your passions or interests. They have a job to do – getting people into work – and sometimes the actual people getting the jobs are forgotten about.
The problem is that if you put someone in the wrong job, it can be very bad for their mental health. People need jobs they care about, and you can’t get that right unless you talk to them and understand them. You need to give their ideas the time of day and see their passion.
That’s what many people who have been homeless are missing. I have met so many amazing people at Evolve, but often they stay under the radar.
For people who have been homeless or don’t have recent work experience, many companies won’t invest in you even if you have the biggest, best plan. They don’t know you or your energy, they just see what’s on paper. People can do so much, but you need to utilize the skills they have to get them jobs they can develop in.
I know this because it has happened to me. I have found projects and work that I care about, and that makes a big difference. I want to help others get to the same place and help put people in the right jobs.
Some organisations including the one I work for (shout out to Ethstat Ethical Stationery CIC) see the potential in people, and that’s great. Others should follow this lead. If they don’t then smart, talented people will remain under the radar. They’ll struggle to find work they care about, and their skills will be missed. That will be a loss for everyone.
By Nathan Wilson