Steven shares his employability journey for Employability Day 2019
Steven is currently an active volunteer with Epilepsy Connections, offering support as a befriender and to staff at social and leisure activities. He is continually adding to his skills and is now actively looking for opportunities to achieve paid employment. He keeps himself busy and enjoys taking up opportunities to become more involved in the third sector, he has a real passion and drive to gain employment in this area.
Steven lives with epilepsy which has had a direct impact on his employability journey. When studying media studies at college, they were particularly supportive and had a bed available for him to recover from his seizures, ensuring he didn’t need to be away from classes more than necessary and could recover quickly in a safe environment. On completion, Steven went on to university but unfortunately his seizure activity increased. On many occasions he injured himself during his seizures resulting in him missing too much of the curriculum which lead to him leaving the course.
At this point Steven became very isolated, his seizures continued to be uncontrolled adding to his feelings of hopelessness. Through time, Steven’s mental health and well being declined, reaching an ultimate low when Steven contemplated taking his own life.
Steven was referred to the Ayrshire and Arran Fieldwork Service (delivered by Epilepsy Connections), where he met with a fieldworker and was introduced to a support group in Irvine. This was a real turning point for Steven, it allowed him to meet other people with shared experiences and begin his self management journey. Steven went on to sign up for Epilepsy Futures- a part time programme within Epilepsy Connections offering learning and support to access external local learning and social opportunities.
Steven recalls the first day of Epilepsy Futures, ‘I was terrified…..the night before I had definitely nearly talked myself out of it . On the day, I was shaking but I knew I needed to do some thing to get me out of the house and live my life.’
Epilepsy Futures has been fantastic for Steven, it has given him a sense of purpose and lifted his self esteem and confidence. He instantly felt welcomed and supported at Epilepsy Connections. His focus to achieve his potential throughout the programme was ignited by the faith and investment he felt from those in the organisation. During this time, he has made many friends and completed his training to be a volunteer.
‘Participating in the programme gave me company, activity, happiness and contentment which has had a positive impact on my health- my seizures have reduced’
Steven’s goal is now to get a paid job within the third sector supporting people living with epilepsy or mental health conditions. Steven believes lived experience is highly valuable and should be recognised as an asset by employers. Steven believes that inclusive recruitment procedures are key in ‘closing the gap’, with in work support being offered and easily accessible. Reducing stigma in the workplace also has a long way to go.