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Longhurst Group teams work together to help customer overcome mental health battle and land dream job

Two of our teams joined forces to help one customer overcome mental health challenges and find work.

Ria Richards, 36, lives in the Birmingham suburb of Handsworth and has been one of our customers for around a year.

She has a long history with mental health issues and has received support from a number of agencies over the years.

However, it was when she began working with our Mental Health Support Team and a subsequent referral to our Employment and Training Advisor, Rob Friday, that she began to see real progress.

“I had a nervous breakdown when I was about 19 when I had my first son and I was referred to all the mental health teams, so I have been within the services for a good while now,” she said.

“I’ve had relapses over the years, but also had good times as well. Unfortunately, my mental health took another turn for the worse when I was pregnant with my twin boys.

“During this time, I was introduced to the Mental Health Support Team within Longhurst Group. I’ve been working with Grace Mason since then and having weekly meetings which have been really helpful.

“She helps me with all sorts of things such as sorting my bills and she actually first introduced me to Rob as I said I wanted to find work. Their input has been invaluable.”

After her referral to Rob, Ria said she wanted to explore the possibility of working in hairdressing. However, her end result saw her take a different path.

Ria said: “Rob was always very empathetic and there to listen to any of my issues. He was another person to talk to, alongside the support worker.

Their input has been invaluable.

Ria Richards

“Sometimes, we would just discuss whatever was going on in my life. But we also got my CV written up properly. I told Rob I had a diploma in hairdressing and was interested in looking into that.

“Amazingly, that went really well and Rob helped me find some voluntary work in a salon.

“At the same time, I was considering doing some sort of support work role myself – either with those who have mental health issues or drug addictions. I had this discussion with Rob and we spoke about a few possible options I could look at.

“We concentrated on looking for voluntary work at first and we re-wrote my CV together, focusing more on the care and support side. I uploaded that to a website and the offers just kept coming in! I was getting responses to my CV very frequently.

“I went for an interview with a company called Bluebird Care and they offered me the job of Care Assistant! I’ve been working there for a little while now and I am really enjoying the work. They understand my situation and are sympathetic to it, which is great.

“I am delighted I was put in touch with Rob. He is very compassionate and a great listener.”

Louise Platt, Executive Director of Care and Business Partnerships, said she was delighted to see Ria’s progress.

“Ria’s admirable achievements show the importance of our different teams working together to help improve people’s lives,” she said.

“As a Group, we are committed to helping our customers realise their dreams and our colleagues are always on hand to give them the advice and support they need to do this.

Ria’s admirable achievements show the importance of our different teams working together to help improve people’s lives.

Louise Platt, Executive Director of Care and Business Partnerships

“Ria has faced her challenges head on and through her sheer determination and the support of our teams, she is now in a rewarding job helping others.

“I’d like to thank all my colleagues who have helped Ria and also wish her continued success in her new role.”

Grace Mason, Ria’s Support Worker, added: “Ria has worked hard to overcome many challenges as well as coping with mental ill health, including being a lone parent. 

With all the challenges she has faced, she has managed to regain her ability to overcome all the above and managed to sort out her life for both herself and her children. 

“Ria worked closely with Rob, who encouraged and supported her, which enabled her to achieve employment.  

“As her support worker, it was a privilege to work with Ria to help her achieve her goals and I am so proud of her.”

Rob Friday, Employment and Training Advisor, said he was proud of Ria’s progress.

“Ria has impressed me by her get-up-and-go attitude,” he said.

“The way she juggles everything that’s going on and her willingness to try new things is impressive.”

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