Isla Choyce, aged 23, is so happy in her new role as a support worker at an assisted living complex that most of the time it doesn't feel like work at all.

“It's so nice to be helping other people who are autistic,” she said. “And because I too am autistic and have mental health issues, I can help and understand more.”

She also supports adults with other health and social care needs including personality and bipolar disorders and schizophrenia.

Isla's job varies from day to day and from person to person.

“Sometimes I help people cook or clean their home, other times I give emotional support or help with problems and disputes,” said Isla, who is from Colne in Lancashire. “I also take people out and help them regain their social life.”

Isla herself has benefitted from support, from Ingeus. She was out of work for four months after she lost her job with a printing company due to the pandemic. Sarah Oldham, at Nelson Jobcentre Plus, referred her to Ingeus’s Work and Health Programme, known locally as Work and Health North West. It helps people into work who have been unemployed for a long time, as well as those with disabilities and health conditions.

Ingeus key worker, Sonya Colley, helped Isla to start her own printing business which boosted Isla's confidence and independence. But when she began to struggle with the amount of work involved, Sonya supported her once again into her support worker role.

“I am thrilled she is doing so well,” said Sonia. ““We have a lovely relationship; I have been with her throughout and the consistency of talking to the same person really helps her.”

Isla said the guidance and practical help she's received from Ingeus has been 'fantastic'.

“Sonya is lovely, she really listened and helped me when things were getting overwhelming,” adds Isla. “I have had to overcome some personal challenges in my life but as I have grown up, I’m much better at communicating with people.”
 

Work and Health North West, delivered by Ingeus, is commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions and receives support from the European Social Fund.