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Sheila’s story

Back in work after 15 years at age 51

Sheila, 51, had been on Incapacity Benefits for 15 years when a family friend told her about Ingeus’ Pathways to Work programme. While Sheila had previously built a career in occupational health, she had suffered from a range of health conditions, including ME, fibrolmyalgia, and back problems, which left her unable to continue this line of work.

At her first meeting with Ingeus advisor, David, Sheila explained that she was hoping to become a health care advisor, but was unsure how to achieve this goal after so many years out of the workforce, and did not know what support would be available to her once she found a job. David conducted a calculation to show Sheila the tax credits and other benefits she would be entitled to if she returned to work, and together they looked at the kind of work Sheila could use as a stepping stone to her long-term job goal.

They decided to focus on finding work as a retail assistant in a chemist, and David helped Sheila to develop a CV that highlighted her relevant skills and experience. Sheila put together a list of chemists in her local area, and with David’s assistance she created and distributed speculative application letters to potential employers. She also used Ingeus’ Job Station facilities to search for vacancies and submit job applications.

To address Sheila’s concerns about her ability to promote herself to employers, David arranged for her to attend workshops on positivity and confidence building. Sheila also attended Ingeus’ in-house Pilates classes to build her core strength.

Sheila's efforts paid off when she was offered a role working 20 hours-a-week as a retail assistant with Boots the Chemist, a position that included in-house training to become a health care advisor. David helped Sheila to make the transition from benefits to work, assisting her to inform the relevant authorities of her change in circumstance and apply for the in-work benefits to which she was entitled.

Sheila says, “The advisors at Ingeus helped me to find the confidence I needed to attend job interviews, make the most of my strengths, and work on the areas I needed to improve. I found the Pilates course to be excellent for anyone dealing with a chronic condition, and the interaction with other clients at the workshops was a welcome change from the isolation of being at home.”

The advisors at Ingeus helped me to find the confidence I needed to make the most of my strengths.”