Day Four of our Let's Work Together Campaign across Leeds: "I was stuck in a hole but now I have something to get up for in the morning"
EIGHT years ago Chris Harrison’s life was devastated when he had a stroke, which left him with health problems and memory loss.
He was unable to return to his previous jobs of driving, operating machinery and working in the entertainment industry, as he recovered from his injuries.
The Yorkshire Evening Post is marking day four of our series of stories for the ‘Let’s Work Together Campaign’, run jointly by the YEP and Reed In Partnership, with Chris’s remarkable story and his journey to find work.
“It was completely out of the blue. I had woken up that morning on the floor and didn’t know what was wrong. I had suffered a bleed on my brain and had to go to hospital,” said the 50-year-old, who now works as a static security guard in Leeds Central Library.
“My memory had been affected and I could not function or do everyday things. It was a shock. Once I got myself fit, I realised I would struggle to find work or be able to do what I used to,” said Chris.
“I was stuck in a hole and could not get out. I now have something to get up for on a morning.
“It has taken me a few years to recover and find work and I had a lot of knock backs along the way.”
We are highlighting the scheme ‘Better Working Futures’ - available at Jobcentre Plus - in a bid to raise awareness and help more people, who might struggle to find a job for a variety of reasons, into securing work.
Now he is working in security after a training course and extra support from Reed In Partnership.
Chris, from Bramley, added: “The Better Working Futures scheme really helped me get back on my feet. They were great all the way through, giving advice and finding the right sort of job.
“Now I work full time and my health is steadily improving. I am trying to stop smoking and getting fitter.
“I would say to anyone who feels they have a problem finding work or who has a disability or whose health is not 100 percent, then get in touch through the Jobcentre. Give it a go as you never know, they have a really good approach.”
It was just a matter of months before Chris found a suitable job.
Conor McDermott, of Reed in Partnership, who is Chris’s employment advisor, said: “We identified that Chris had many transferable skills in order to go into the security industry.
“It is through his sheer dedication and enthusiasm that he completed his SIA course.
“He passed all the screening with flying colours, entered the workplace with Leeds City Council and has never looked back. It was a delight to be a part of getting Mr Harrison back into work.”
Better Working Futures is Reed in Partnership’s name for the Work and Health Programme in Yorkshire and the North East, which is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and European Social Fund.
If you are struggling to find work and would like to know what free support is available to help you, visit betterworkingfutures.co.uk
Helping hand to break down barriers
Better Working Futures helps people address their barriers to employment, focusing largely on those with disabilities and other health conditions, including mental health issues and learning disabilities.
The support is completely free and participants can get help to prepare for work including managing their health, accessing skills training courses, searching and applying for jobs that suit their skills and personal circumstances, plus practicing for interviews.
They will also get support to deal with other issues, such as housing and finance and how to cope with a job and staying in work.
Each participant is paired up with a friendly employment adviser who will take the time to understand their needs.