Job description: Job Coach at St Mungo's
Areas of interest: Employment and skills
Ciara Morrin's Recent Activity
"As a St Mungo’s Job Coach I am currently run some women only groups in Harrow. One is based in a mixed substance use aftercare service called Radiate. The women decided that they wanted to learn computer skills so we have been focussing on IT alongside job coaching for 3 months. The first session we just spent talking about our experiences and ambitions, and a really supportive atmosphere was developed early on. Even though our targets are around getting people into training and work, those soft outcomes around peer support and confidence building are really important. Women have opened up and found common ground, and now don’t feel so isolated or crazy in their own heads. I think that the fact that it is a confidential women only space has been a big part of why this is.
One woman has a partner who is a heavy drinker, and the group has allowed her a space away from this. When she first started she would not have contemplated volunteering work but now is thinking about this and other options for herself. Another was in an abusive relationship, and when she caught her husband cheating she reacted physically. This led to her being fired from her job and she has been unemployed and on antidepressants but is now building up her confidence again to move into part time work. Another woman from Russia has a life that revolves around a Russian and an English man. She cannot contemplate being financially independent from them, so this is something we are looking at together.
I have done a group with young women, many of whom were care leavers. For some it was very hard to engage with job coaching. One young woman was sexually abused by her father and using drugs quite heavily. I asked if money wasn’t an issue what she would want in the future in terms of career. Her answer was that she wanted to have a child but was fearful that social services would take it, and what her father would do when he was out of prison. In this case I think counselling was more necessary rather than job coaching. Another young woman, who is very bright and capable, wants to get a qualification in health and beauty however the £3000 course fees are a barrier. She also has a young daughter and is concerned about travelling away from her child.
I think the biggest challenge for women I have supported in homelessness services in getting back into work has been substance use. I remember meeting one woman when she was clean and making plans/setting goals, but the next time I saw her she had relapsed and she couldn’t remember who I was and why I was there, this continued on a number of occasions between drinking and sober. Another woman was addicted to heroin and had been in prison for stealing and lost her daughter. She said she felt isolated from the other women because of her choice of drug. She said for men others might be impressed, but for women it is a taboo drug and she lost all her girlfriends. I think the opportunity to talk to other women is so important, informal emotional support as well as therapy.
The other big challenge is when women have lost or are separated from their children. This leaves a void that it is so hard to step outside, to see that if they push themselves back on track they may get contact with their children again.
I have loved doing women’s groups and have felt very comfortable. I am going to miss the women when the groups finish as a strong bond is always built up. We all need to talk and share experiences, but I have found for vulnerable women it is particularly constructive, as well as just 1:1 coaching."
Reply To: Skills and Employment