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V has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and, due to a manic episode, lost her long-term employment four years ago. Since then V has been working with the Step Up team gaining support in finding suitable volunteering roles and engaging in employment support sessions. Five months ago, V started to feel hopeless about the idea of returning back to employment. She was feeling very low and did not know what to do. She applied for an administration volunteer role at Volunteer Centre Hackney and started working with their Brokerage team once a week.

At the same time, she also started seeing the Step Up Employment Advisor. They began by exploring the barriers to her returning to work. As her past experience of employment had ended badly due to her illness, V viewed herself and her skills as redundant and invalid. She had engaged well with creative activities throughout her recovery and so the employment advisor began working with her using a large sheet of paper and some colouring pens. They mapped out her transferable skills, the barriers, where she needed to grow and what she was most passionate about in terms of employment. This started to take the shape of a colourful tree.

After a few sessions, V began to clearly identify her employment goals and what steps she would need to take next. This encouraged her to begin job hunting and start seeking out paid administration positions in the health and charity sectors. She worked with the employment advisor to update her CV, create a personalised job search strategy and make job applications.

After a few weeks, she was being offered job interviews and the employment advisor gave her further support with interview preparation. On her third interview, V secured a role within the NHS as a Bank Receptionist. Step Up has kept in touch with her, helping her to manage the transition back to work. She has reported that the job is going well so far and she is enjoying have a routine again.

Whatever you’re looking for, if you have mental health needs and you are interested in volunteering or employment, email or telephone 020 7241 4443 ext 2003.