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Journey to Self-Employment with BBO Bridges


LM came into the YMCA, West Bromwich in August 2021 at a time of low mental health. Remembering he’d received support before with one of Just Straight Talk’s previous BBO projects, Community Matters, he came to ask for assistance during what he considered was a time of crisis.

After getting the approval from Steps to Work, we signed him onto the Bridges project, and since he joined we have been able to assist him across many of his barriers. These included help with his housing application to live independently again, light employability activities leading to building a CV to highlight his skills, knowledge and experience. We also helped LM organise healthy routines (of which his Bridges meeting became an integral part), building confidence in social scenarios, raising confidence to talk about his mental health (most notably with reference to exploring a AQ50 ASD test). We also explored benefits advice, and even played some Chess to close some of our sessions. LM is also very fitness-focused so we incorporated this into our activities including walking and running.

As disruption to LM’s routine can have a detrimental impact on his mental health, we’ve tried to keep our sessions consistent and regular. LM admits he can be very analytical when it comes to ratings but on our Distance Travelled Questionnaire the scores have steadily increased since joining Bridges.

The impact of our IAG sessions can also be reflected by LM’s Participant Progression Questionnaire. The majority of his scores given were 4/4 ratings including “did you find the activities you attended useful and informative?”, “do you feel the staff treated you fairly and respectfully?” and “did you find the support/ one-to-one sessions held with the project staff useful?”. LM expresses gratitude for the person centred approach afforded him throughout his time on BBO Projects.

LM is progressing now into part-time self-employed IT solutions and web development as he has secured a contract with a local business. We have also referred LM to one of our Bridges partners ‘Access to Business’ to see what additional support he can find around managing, strengthening and sustaining self-employed venture. LM is also considering working on deliveries for a company such as Getir so may apply for them in the near future too.

“I believe LM’s time on Bridges has been beneficial and has helped him to get to a position where his confidence has improved dramatically and working is a possibility/reality.” James Tivendale, JST – LM’s Bridges Advice worker.

“He and I are both deep thinkers, sometimes enjoy silences, and found a lot of common ground with routines and enthusiasm for fitness.” LM Bridges Participant.

LM also appreciated the support from JST colleagues Chris, Kate, and Katie who would always ask how he was doing, creating a safe support network for him. This, alongside his support from Hope House, his fitness routine and family support; has helped LM get to a place where he can move on from our support and focus his energy on his self-employed project whilst continuing his self-improvement journey. Most notably, LM expressed that this support has enabled him to communicate and relate his mental health and possible ASD for the first time, and now has expressed it in words to help him relate back to it as a starting point to help strive towards a diagnosis and better management and understanding of these elements of his health.

We wholeheartedly wish LM all the best in his future endeavours.

BBO Bridges is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund