Due to concerns over the unfolding coronavirus pandemic, university graduate Alister Ewen was forced to fly home from his Moroccan sales job in early 2020. Now, after a year out of work, the 23-year-old from Newton-le-Willows, St Helens, has landed a new job – and a bike to help him get there. Alister was referred to Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS), a separate strand of the Work and Health Programme (WHP), delivered in St Helens by Ingeus. It is commissioned and financed by the Department for Work and Pensions and deemed to be a European Social Fund match funded programme.
 
As the UK went into lockdown, Alister struggled to find work. “I was applying for loads of jobs in the same field but most of the sector got closed down,” he says. His work coach Christine at Skelmersdale Jobcentre Plus referred him to JETS in December 2020 and put him in touch with employment coach Jenni Hockney.
 
“Jenni has been helpful and consistent throughout the process,” says Alister. “She helped change my CV so that it explained more about me as a person and not just what I’d done. “She encouraged me to put my GCSE grades on there, showing I’d passed essential subjects like English and maths.”
 
Jenni discovered there was a retail vacancy at a hardware store in Widnes, a short bus ride from Alister’s home. She encouraged him to apply for the job, and he was not afraid to inject some dry humour into his application. “I said something along the lines of, ‘if the home is the castle, then the store will become my fortress,’” says Alister. “I think they must have laughed at that.”
 
He was offered an interview and a week later started his new job – but could not afford public transport. Fortunately, Jenni came to the rescue. “When I first started, I was walking to the site, which took about an hour," says Alister. “I could go over the canal so it wasn’t a bad route but I told Jenni it was a bit far. Ingeus ordered me a bike to get to and from work, which was really good.”
 
Now Alister is glad to be working again and is hopeful it will lead to future success. “I would recommend the JETS programme to others,” he says. “It’s great to be back in work and I’m hoping that in a couple of years I’ll be able to move up to a manager position.”
 
Ingeus supports the delivery of JETS in the North West, Greater London, Greater Manchester, the North East, and Central areas. https://ingeus.com/jetsnw