After two years unemployed, Brian McCabe has found work thanks to AmicusHorizon’s Jobs at Home scheme. He talks about his struggle to find a job and how the housing association has given him a new lease of life.
Mixing cement and carrying round the tools of his trade, Brian McCabe couldn’t be happier.
The 51-year-old has spent the last two years unemployed and had his confidence chipped away.
And two years prior to this he’d been doing agency work with various local authorities and no job security.
But a month ago Brian’s life was turned around after he spotted a poster at housing association AmicusHorizon.
It was offering help to out of work residents through their ‘Jobs at Home’ scheme.
This social enterprise scheme is run in partnership with the Housing Leadership Foundation.
The idea is to create jobs for AmicusHorizon residents to work on the organisation’s properties. This ranges from gardening to laying paving slabs.
And through this scheme, Brian, who is an AmicusHorizon resident, now has a permanent role as a labourer.
Brian said: “It’s great to be back in work. I feel really appreciated.”
Describing the difficulty he’d previously experienced in finding a job, Brian continued: “It was hard. Sometimes I’d go home and you’d feel like drinking and joining people at the end of the road.
“I was struggling. I was on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), but I wanted to work. I would go out for walks because I couldn’t stand looking at four walls.”
One hurdle Brian encountered in finding work was with computers. He had a basic CV and didn’t have the ability to apply for jobs via email himself.
He explained: “I don’t know anything about computers – I don’t know how to switch one on! I’ve got a flash phone my daughter gave me and I don’t know how to use it! I can answer calls, but none of this internet!”
Brian also didn’t have the relevant qualifications. Although he was capable of doing various roles, he’d stopped labouring for a number of years to bring up his daughter.
By the time he wanted to return to the trade, a number of qualifications had been introduced that Brian simply didn’t have.
He tried to get a CSCS (Construction Skills Certificate Scheme) card, which confirms individuals working in the building environment have the necessary competence. ut despite passing the training and test, he struggled to get a contractor to “sign-off” his paperwork. This was because he simply didn’t know any contractors willing to do this.
Brian explained: “It’s frustrating. I could take a compressor and start digging up the road now. But I’m ‘not qualified’ – even though I’ve done it before.”
AmicusHorizon discovered Brian had practical skills, but had trouble with job applications.
The housing association can step in to offer help and support, like strengthening CVs.
And Briony Streets, a Community Worker at AmicusHorizon, helped Brian do just that.
Briony said: “I felt like Brian had been written off. But he wanted a job and he had the necessary skills to do the job.
“I didn’t see any reason therefore why he shouldn’t work. I could see that if somebody gave him the opportunity he would make the most of it.
“And I’ve been proved right. We’ve had lots of positive feedback about Brian – I’ve heard he gets stuck into his work and he’s helping the others learn.”
Carrying out work in the back garden of a Croydon home, it’s clear Brian’s new work colleagues hold him in high-esteem.
And Brian is proud to have just gained his mini digger licence. He’s now getting the paperwork to back up his skills.
AmicusHorizon is also helping him to finally get his CSCS card signed off.
Brian added: “My governor James knows I can do the work. He says ‘all I have to do is ask you Brian and I know it’s done’
“I feel very happy.”