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Employment

I quit work to care for my mum. Big Issue Recruit helped me find my sense of purpose again

Neil Reid took a few months out of work to care for his mother. Once she was better, Big Issue Recruit helped him find a job he loves

Big Issue Recruit helped Neil Reid find work with Tier scooters.

When Neil Reid’s mother had an operation late last year, he dropped everything to help care for her.

“Family has to come first, doesn’t it,” the 55 year-old says. “It made sense that I looked after her in that time.”

The operation – a fairly routine procedure pushed back by years of Covid delays – was a success, and Reid took a few months out of work to help his mother recuperate. It was a “necessary” move, he reflects – but he didn’t want to be out of employment longer than he needed to be.

The born-and-bred Bristol local has worked all of his adult life. He’s been an NHS 111 trainer, a project manager for a research centre, and a mentor with students in Dubai. Work gives Reid a “sense of purpose,” he tells the Big Issue.

“Getting up and going to work makes you feel like you belong, like you have a place,” he says. “It gives everyone a reason to be around.”

Yet returning to the job market isn’t always easy. Between 2007 and 2020, around two-fifths (41.4%) of people who had been out of work for up to three months returned to work within the next three months, government figures show. This reduced to 28.5% of people who had been out of work for up to six months.

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Unemployment can wreak havoc with a person’s mental health and confidence. Someone who has spent six months out of work is around 28% more likely than someone in employment to struggle with mental health difficulties, for example.

“I try and stay positive, it’s just the way I’m made,” Reid says. “But not having stability is hard for anyone.”

Breaking the vicious cycle of joblessness is the mission statement of Big Issue Recruit (BIR) a specialist recruitment service dedicated to helping people overcome barriers to employment. Nearing its one-year anniversary, Big Issue Recruit has supported more than 100 people in their job search.

Reid – who met a BIR representative at a DWP job fair in August –  leapt at the chance to take on a new role. BIR helped him land an interview with Tier, a company that provides pay-to-use electric bikes and scooters in cities around the UK.

“The turnaround was really quick. From initial point of contact, it took just five days to arrange an interview. Then I had a job confirmation within two weeks,” he explains.

Now an operations coordinator for Tier, Reid manages a team of 10 rangers overseeing the rollout of the micro-mobility company’s scooters and bikes. The company are expanding into the west of England, setting up fleets in Bristol and Bath.

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Family still comes first for Reid, who often looks after his grandson. But Tier works around his childcare responsibilities. The job has been a “blessing”, he enthuses.

“I love it. It’s a great team, and it’s a great job” he enthuses. “Having good work like this does wonders for you.”

Big Issue Recruit is a specialist recruitment service, dedicated to supporting people who face barriers to joining the workforce into sustainable employment. It is a person-centred service and free to candidates, supporting individuals pre-, during and post-employment.

On signing up, candidates are partnered with a personal job coach to understand their needs and goals, build confidence, skills and resilience and coach them through the selection process, to secure the roles that are suitable for them – meaning that employers can find the right candidate who is more likely to stay in the position for longer.

Job coaches work with candidates post placement, to establish a good relationship with their new employer and support them to thrive in their new role.

Nearing its one-year anniversary, Big Issue Recruit is well on course in its mission to bring people from a more diverse range of backgrounds into the job market. Big Issue Recruit has supported 109 candidates in their job search, put 80 jobseekers forward for interviews, and enabled 43 people to secure positive employment.

To find out how Big Issue Recruit could help you into employment, or help your business to take a more inclusive approach to recruitment, click here.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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