One of the first things people notice when they visit the Ipswich office of CoAct member Open Minds is the smiling face of receptionist, Chloe Gray. Chloe is professional and friendly, and many people comment on how enthusiastic she is. That enthusiasm comes from a special place – because Chloe knows the Open Minds team will truly go above and beyond to help their clients find a job. How does she know this? Because Chloe used to be a client herself!
Chloe came to Open Minds after a year and a half of unemployment. She was a positive, driven jobseeker with employment firmly set in her sights. She also had significant physical and mental health issues that had proven to be barriers to securing employment in the past. Chloe had plenty of reasons to give up on finding a job, and supportive parents who were happy to provide for her. But Chloe was determined to become independent and move out of home.
After her initial appointment with Open Minds, Chloe was matched with Employment Consultant Holly. Holly took the time to get to know Chloe – her previous attempts at employment, the medical issues she had experienced, the training and skills development she’d undertaken, and, most of all, the motivation behind her job search. Armed with this information, and some additional workplace requirements specified by Chloe’s doctors, they started looking for an office administration role.
While applying for jobs, Chloe also worked hard to build her confidence and job search skills. She enrolled in the Open Minds Employability Workshop, which ran over 2 weeks, 4 days a week. The prospect of attending the workshop was very daunting for Chloe, because of her mental health issues. But not only did she attend every session of the workshop, she also actively participated in each class, overcoming her anxiety of being in a room full of people she did not know. The workshop boosted Chloe’s confidence and job searching skills and helped her understand how to position her barriers in a positive light to potential employers.
Because she had previously undertaken study through a Government-funded program, Chloe did not have the means to pay for additional training in her desired career. This meant that although she applied for a minimum of 20 jobs a week (including some in locations over an hour away) and attended interviews almost monthly, she was unable to secure any work in the administrative field. While employers regularly commented on her enthusiasm and interview preparation, they were unable to offer her a role, due to her lack of experience and specific skills.
For nearly 12 months, Chloe worked tirelessly on her job search. Throughout the process she remained focused and positive, even when she experienced additional medical complications and had to attend numerous GP, specialist and psychologist appointments. Then, a role became available within the Open Minds office.
Holly approached her boss to ask if they would consider Chloe for the role, understanding that there were a number of factors (such as client privacy) to consider. As with the other roles Chloe had applied for, one of the main concerns for Open Minds was her lack of vocational skills. But the team could not ignore Chloe’s determination and perseverance, and so they employed her on a traineeship.
Chloe is now well on her way to completing her study, and is loving her job! The Open Minds team view her as a real asset and are confident that she will be able to achieve anything she desires, because of her positive attitude. Throughout her experience as a jobseeker at Open Minds, Chloe was given the support she needed to build her skills and confidence. She is now a proud advocate for Open Minds, and has the ability to inspire and motivate others, just as her case manager, Holly did for her.