Jay shares how coming to The ClementJames Centre has changed his mindset and allowed him to pursue his passion for acting alongside finding full-time work.
“Before I came to ClementJames I was a negative and cynical person. I used to hang out with people who were alcoholics and addicts and I didn’t have a real purpose or goal to work at, so that was all I knew back then. I first came to ClementJames because I was stuck in a rut, I was having therapy and decided that, rather than dining and coping that way, I would seek support. ClementJames took me on straight away. They helped me with my CV and cover letter and I attended an interview skills day with volunteers from Barclays Bank. I got my first job as a cleaner after a few months.
I kept on coming to ClementJames for employment support as I was still on ESA [Employment Support Allowance] and only worked 10 hours a week, as I didn’t feel I could do any more. Over time, ClementJames challenged my limiting beliefs about myself. They even challenged me to think about what I was getting from the people I was hanging out with. Being on benefits, you get stuck in a pattern, a bubble. I was stuck in the system and didn’t feel like I could progress, but ClementJames made me believe that I didn’t need to be stuck in that pattern. No one had ever had that conversation with me before, no one had asked me where I wanted to be in five years. They made me realise that the best therapy is work.
In January this year, I found full-time work as a cleaner. It’s not glamorous but I really enjoy it. It has given me a purpose, a structure, a routine. I am also able to do acting on the side, which is my love. I am now off ESA and am making less money than I had on benefits, but I am earning my money and that feels good. I feel I have something to offer society.
Since coming to ClementJames I have had so much support. As well as the employment support, I have had a mentor who helped me with my presentation skills and now I can present myself in a more positive way. I have also had information, advice and guidance to help me with housing issues.
Without this centre my life would have taken a very different trajectory I’m sure. I feel so much more confident; I feel like I can hold my fort. I was recently diagnosed with autism, and a few years ago that would have crushed me, but now I can see that it’s okay, there are lots of successful people who have autism. I think ClementJames has played a huge part in that as I have been challenged so much by people here, to recognise that I have skills and abilities, even if I have disabilities.
One of my managers said to me the other day ‘you are so positive, Jay, I love being around you’. I felt really good when she said that. Before coming here no one would have ever said that. When I first came here I would always talk about my alcoholism, my depression, my anxiety. Now I get up early, work out regularly, I have lots to feel positive about.”