As we mark more than two years since the launch of the Restart Scheme, we’re proud of our achievements empowering thousands of people across the country to overcome their barriers, find sustainable employment and transform their lives.

In London, Carla Gomes joined the scheme at the end of 2021 after being unemployed for more than two years following redundancy.  

As a result, she was struggling with low confidence and self-esteem, coupled with several health issues which had been impacting her ability to work.

She explained: “Before I was made redundant, I was off sick with problems from my back as I have an auto-immune disease that attacks my body. It comes out as Crohn’s and can be quite severe, particularly during times of stress.

“I’d never been made redundant before and where I come from, redundancy is as bad as bankruptcy; it was humiliating. The more jobs I applied for and didn’t get, the more panicked I became. I was applying for 30 jobs a day as I thought that statistically the more you apply for, the more chance you have of becoming employed.”

Carla was introduced to our partners, Reed in Partnership, who are delivering the scheme in Kingston on our behalf. She soon met with her dedicated Employment Advisor, Christine Omisore, who immediately recognised that Carla was struggling with her confidence.  

Christine said: “One of Carla’s biggest barriers was her self-confidence, which had been knocked because of interview rejections. The first time I met Carla, she was just on her way back from an interview and she was feeling very overwhelmed and demotivated. To address this, I worked with her to show her that this rejection did not define her.”  

Christine encouraged Carla to attend wellbeing sessions, skills training, and mock interviews, transforming her confidence and improving her ability to effectively job search. 

Highlighting the impact of these sessions, Carla explained: “The workshops were life changing. You got to meet other people going through similar things, which made me feel less alone. The team worked with me to help me focus on my skills and what I was most passionate about. We started looking at my transferable skills and how best to update your CV to reflect the position you were applying for – and this was an eye opener for me.

“Then we spent a lot of time practising interviews which really helped me to feel prepared and less nervous. They also put me in touch with the National Careers Centre, which was another great resource for me.”

After more than six months of tailored support, Carla secured a new role in a sector she hadn’t previously considered. 

“Christine helped me to focus on my skills and where my passion lay. We looked at different industries and Ruils really stood out to me. I looked at their history, at what they’ve done and I was really keen. The team supported me through the application process, and then when I got the job, it was amazing. I was really excited and very proud – I can’t even begin to describe how I truly felt.” 

Carla began her new role in July 2022 and in is now celebrating more than a year in her role as an Independent Living Advisor at Ruils, a London-based charity that supports disabled children, adults and the elderly to live independent lives.

“In the end I found a job, but that was not the end of the support from Maximus. At the beginning I was struggling financially, so Christine provided vouchers for work clothes. I was offered a laptop, a bus pass and funds for my first month at work, so that was really reassuring.” 

The team at Ruils immediately ensured that any reasonable adjustments were implemented so Carla’s health condition did not affect her ability to work. She added: “As soon as I walked through the door, they were organising any adjustments I needed in order for me to carry out my role. Christine was also keeping in regular contact with me to make sure that I was settling in okay.”

Reflecting on her experience, Carla said: “My life really turned around when I met Christine and the team. The Restart Scheme gave me my life back. I can’t begin to tell you how low I was, and now to have the chance to start a different career.  

“I do a job that I absolutely love. It’s hard work but it’s hard work that pays off and makes other people better. The feel-good factor of my workplace is second to none. I couldn’t have done any of this without Maximus.”

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