Before I went to Apex I’d had a lot of bad experiences with training. I’d got nothing from it and was as far from getting a job as ever. I knew my past behaviour didn’t help – I’d been in trouble since I was 14 – but I didn’t think the help I was getting was making any difference. I didn’t hold out much hope when I went to Apex but they were really good with me from the start. They treated me as a person and really took an interest in finding out about me and encouraging me. I was never any good at school but they told me about courses that I could do at college and helped me get on a computer course. I’ve been working now for four months and feel I’ve turned a corner. I know a lot of the changes in my life are down to me but I wouldn’t have been able to get where I am now without Apex helping.
My name is Sarah and I’m 26 years of age. I completed a 3 year custodial sentence in Cornton Vale for assault. Until then I had no experience of prison and had been studying Beauty Therapy at college. My life was completely turned upside-down as I had to move away from my hometown due to a threat to my life upon release. I was referred to Apex in July 2009 and allocated Margaret Welsh as my worker
I had to live in Galashiels for a year from 2009-10 and, because my circumstances and support needs were very unusual, I experienced some difficulties. However, I was EXTREMELY lucky to have had such an excellent support from Margaret. She did everything possible to progress things in my life towards improving my education needs and getting me back to employment as well as helping me make the best use of what was a lonely and horrendous time for me in Galashiels.
I would meet with Margaret fortnightly, and we would work to a structured action plan as well as having a chat where I could offload some of my anxieties which wasn’t really her job. She worked over and above any expectations I had of her, and probably her job description! She gave me invaluable advice plus support on a mental and practical level and always acted in a highly professional manner. After being let down by so many “professionals” in the last year it has been a relief to know that Margaret WAS professional, and she has helped me to gain confidence and prepare myself to get back to a normal life.
I have started the college course which Margaret and I applied for, HNC Media Make-up, something I never expected to become a reality a year ago. And I hope to be employed on the retail make-up counters very soon.
I cannot thank Apex, in particular Margaret enough for the service they provided.
I’d made a real mess of my life. I’d been in and out of prison half a dozen times. I had no contact with my family or my wee boy and I was drinking all the time and getting into trouble. My social worker told me about Apex but I wasn’t convinced. I’d been on loads of other courses and got nowhere but I gave it a go. The first thing I noticed was they didn’t talk down to me or get all snooty about my history. They told me they would help me get a job but I needed to sort myself out first. I needed to stop drinking and getting into bother and I needed to take responsibility for my own life and things like that. It was hard going at first but I stuck at it and tried to follow the plan Apex had made for me. I eased up on the drinking and learned I had more skills than I thought I did. I did a CV and application forms and got an interview. I was really nervous but the staff at Apex helped me prepare and I got the job! I was really pleased and have been working now for seven months. Apex were brilliant for me and I’m pleased I went there.
I would highly recommend anyone to attend Apex whether it’s someone who simply has problems getting a job or needs some support during tough times. It is one of the best things I have done. It helped me get back on track with my life…
Things weren’t going great for me. I was in and out of trouble with the police, had no job and generally could not be bothered to get out of bed. I agreed to attend a meeting at Apex. I got told I had a place if I wanted to go, so I did.
We did fun things like making cards, painting and were taken out with the Woodland Trust every Wednesday. It got me out the house for the full day in the fresh air, giving me great exercise and getting me interacting with other people. I loved it.
I ended up applying for college to do catering as I wanted to get back into education and I really enjoyed cooking. Apex gave me great tips for my interview. A few weeks later I found out I had got a place.
Things were going great until I had to appear at court for an offence I had committed a few months beforehand. I started to get very nervous and being moody with everyone. I ended up taking days off Apex and feeling really bad about myself, but I knew I couldn’t hide from my problems forever. I ended up telling Apex everything and felt much better. They told me that they would support me all the way through. That day I realised it’s better not to run away from my problems and hide in my bed. Things at court turned out ok; it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Things were back on track again!
I still attend Apex during the week. I am nearing the end of my time with them and have applied for jobs closer to home.
Thanks to everyone at Apex for all their help and support. I would hate to think what I would be doing right now if it weren’t for them.
I was unsure about meeting Apex Scotland at first but then I thought, give it a go, I’ve got nothing to lose. My life was all over the place and I needed support finding work. I was also unsure what to do about my convictions. The staff at Apex gave me all the support and advice I needed. I have been ‘clean’ now for nearly six months and really enjoying my life. Having a routine is great! My mum has seen such a change in me that she contacted Apex Scotland to thank my personal advisor for all her support. I am so glad I engaged with Apex Scotland and for all the support and encouragement they provided.
Megan was referred by her school careers advisor. Her attendance at school was poor and she became a chronic non attender by 3rd year. Megan had a lot of sick days but her pastoral care teacher attributed much of her absences to lack of confidence in her abilities and low self esteem. Once she had officially left school things got worse for Megan and she suffered regular panic attacks and developed a fear of being outside on her own. Megan’s initial engagement with her SDS Key Worker wasn’t good. She had absolutely no routine and normally slept until late afternoon. It was obvious that her motivation was seriously affected by her lifestyle and personal issues. After a few missed appointments Megan contacted her key worker to say that she was not ready to engage.After some time Megan turned up at her local Careers office with a friend and asked if she could re-engage with her key worker. She had made the decision to deal with her panic attacks and was seeing a health professional and now wanted help with her confidence issues and employability barriers. Megan agreed that taking part in a Lifeskills programme would be a good starting point for her and agreed to a visit to Apex with her key worker. This visit was a major turning point as it gave Megan the opportunity to meet the training staff and get a feel for the Centre. Megan enjoyed her visit and felt completely at ease meeting the staff and talking to them. She was given the opportunity to start training with Apex Lifeskills programme and decided to give it a go.Since she started training Megan has shown complete commitment to overcome her issues and during a recent review with her SDS Key Worker Megan said that ‘it has changed my life’ and ‘it just makes you want to get up in the morning, knowing I’m coming here’.
Derek was referred to Apex’s Forth Valley team in January 2014 after serving a life sentence. Personal Development Mentor, Louise, explains:
“The initial focus was to help Derek re-integrate back into society and cope with changes in technology – he had no knowledge of how to use computers or even mobile phones. Whilst in custody, Derek had had a lot of time to think about what he wanted his life to be like upon release which included his own home, a job and a partner to share these things with. The reality was somewhat different and he was constantly frustrated at the lack of opportunities available to him.
We started by concentrating on the softer outcomes – things to help him cope with day to day life. In addition to this we discussed basic computing support and how to register for things like Universal Jobmatch. Derek also registered with his local library to attend computing classes.
Derek decided to voluntarily attend Apex’s Works4YOU programme, which was set up specifically for clients subject to Community Payback Orders to give them the opportunity to use 30% of their hours towards education. Although Derek wasn’t subject to a CPO order, he thought it would be constructive way to spend his time and learn new things. The group was held at the premises of our partner ACE Cornton and, through his time there, he discovered other activities going on in the area, so quickly became involved in the walking group, craft class and community garden.
Derek was introduced to Bandeath Dog Shelter which the Forth Valley team has links with and he became a regular volunteer there, cycling 30 miles each week in wind and rain so that he could take the dogs out for much needed exercise.
Even with everything he was involved in, Derek was still frustrated at not being in work and sometimes struggled to keep motivated. He found himself thinking that he had a “job” whilst in prison and didn’t have any money worries whilst inside …
Throughout this time we concentrated on the general “employability” subjects such as job search, interview techniques and producing a CV and letter of disclosure. Derek attended a local jobs fair and made sure he visited every stallholder to try and “put himself in the shop window” so to speak – he certainly isn’t a shrinking violet!
Whilst working together, I helped Derek complete application forms, and particularly one for a local factory – a major employer in the area. His initial application was unsuccessful, but then the recruitment agency that handled applications got in touch and asked Derek to attend an information day; he was offered a temporary position with the agency. His colleagues are so impressed with his work and attitude that have put in a ‘good word’ in the hope that, should a permanent position become available, Derek’s name is at the front of the queue.
Derek now has his own rented accommodation, he is more confident in use of modern technology and is working – success!!”
Steven began attending Apex at the end of last year with severe confidence issues and on a methadone programme after battling a 12 year addiction with heroin. He was anxious, nervous and unsure whether or not he could actually cope with coming to Apex.
Alison, Steven’s personal development mentor, explained to him the different ways in which Apex could help and before long was helping him with a number of different tools that would help him in the future such as constructing a CV, as he had never had one before. Steven also liked the whole concept of the disclosure letter and so this was written too as well as being referred to the adult learning centre in Dundee for help with computer skills, which he is still attending regularly.
Alison encouraged Steven to take part in the new cooking course which was being run in Tayside. He had his doubts, particularly as his confidence was still very low but, with gentle persuasion, agreed to attend the first week. At the end of the first cooking class Steven said how different it was to what he expected; he had really enjoyed himself. He was surprised and how cheap and easy it was to make simple meals himself and resolved to do it again.
Steven attended every class, gaining confidence all the time in his ability and socialising with the other service users. Having done so well, Steven was invited to continue with the group and is now happily volunteering for Apex, helping others in the cooking class. He has taken responsibility for the cleanliness of all aspects in the kitchen which he maintains to a high standard – and has no hesitation in letting people know if they are falling short! The young people on the course now look to Steven for help and advice and he is happy to help.
Personal Development Mentor, Alison, commented on the change that she has seen in Steven. She said, “Steven is a completely different person now to the one he was in November. He has a love for cooking and is constantly making dishes to take to his mum, as well as cooking for his old neighbour in the hostel he used to stay in. He is experimenting baking bread and shortbread which he says helps take his mind off drugs”. Steven himself has stated how much more confident and happier he feels since attending the cooking group. He has recently been given his own tenancy and is busy decorating his new flat. The future is looking much more positive.