547 job applications but Pluss referral finally brings success


547 job applications, unemployed and depressed…now I have turned my life around. Robin tells his story for World Mental Health Day

Robin Boness (pictured centre), a 60 year old Security Officer from Torquay, is a successful, motivated and respected employee working for Frontline Total Security Ltd. However, rewind one year and it was a completely different story. Isolated and in the very depths of despair, Robin was fighting a battle with severe depression due to long-term unemployment.

Friday 10th October is World Mental Health day. One in four people in the UK every year will experience a mental health issue which can include conditions such as depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Robin is telling his story to raise awareness of the vital role work had to play in his recovery to mental wellbeing.

“I had been an electrician for 30 years but because of my age I could no longer work at the same speed and I got made redundant – this resulted in me being unemployed for five years.

“I felt so low when I was unemployed. I couldn’t see a future. I had applied for 547 jobs which resulted in only one interview. At the time every advert said you must have a car. It got the point where I thought this is how it’s going to be – I’ll go stir crazy. I think I became introverted and snappy. For five years, apart from signing on, I didn’t speak to people. I hated the world and myself.”

Robin was then referred to Pluss, a local Social Enterprise who has helped over 250 disabled people into work across Torbay and South Devon.

“Pluss was a tremendous help. I did an employability course. They helped me get my Security Industry Authority badge. They helped fund my suit, shirt and tie for interview.

“They also drove me to interview and I was terrified. I was so close to getting a job I could taste it. I thought if I don’t get the job where do I go now? I couldn’t believe it when I actually got the job. Pluss then helped me with a hire car until I had a couple of months’ wages and could buy my own car.

“Now, I love every second of my job and I am so happy to be working. I get treated with respect; treated like a human being. I even got a phone call on Christmas day to say thank you.

“I still feel over the moon now. Your image of yourself improves once you are working, though I still suffer from unemployment lag. I have got so many things to replace like my oven and hob which don’t work properly – I am trying to get back to where I was five years ago.

“Now I’ve completely turned my life around and I love doing the job. It’s not just the money, although that’s great as we all need money, but I’ve actually got someone to talk to.”

Lee Williams, Operations Director at Frontline Total Security Ltd, is just as delighted with his employee. “It is 100% important in our line of work to get the right person. We have just been awarded the prestigious SIA ‘Approved Contractor’ status and this means we have to have top dollar employees. We need people who are trustworthy with great customer service, well-presented and good time-keeping. Robin is all of these things. “Robin is extremely smart, well mannered and has a good sense of humour. He is calm, respectful and has good judgement. He always turns up on time and is good with customers. Robin knows how to speak to people with respect. “We are very busy so ultimately if we have people, like Robin, who really want to work that makes such a difference to us as a business.”

Being in work is proven to be beneficial for our mental wellbeing (as it improves activity, social interaction and offers a sense of identity) yet Robin’s difficulty in finding work is a common picture for people with mental health issues. In Torbay only 3.3% of people with enduring mental health conditions are in work.