Support Finding Work

The journey back into work after a period of time away from paid employment often happens in stages.   Sometimes a person falls out of work after having experienced a mental health condition.  This is likely to affect a person’s confidence, as well as their skills, such as an ability to concentrate on a task, make decisions quickly, or deal with the social interactions of a busy workplace.

In order to build up confidence again, it is often helpful to focus on setting yourself smaller goals to gradually increase confidence; a little like going up a ladder one rung at a time, so you don’t get too dizzy!

Some of the rungs on the ladder might involve finding a part time course at a local college or community centre, doing some voluntary work, or undertaking a work placement.  There are plenty of places to help you write and update a CV, and learn what the best ways are of approaching employers, and applying for jobs.

Remember, you are likely to feel ambivalent about taking this journey, particularly if your last experience of paid work was not a good one.  Remember though that there are many different jobs out there, and that for the majority of people, they are happy in their work. Feel the fear and do it anyway is an appropriate strategy here!  Your confidence will follow once you have taken that next step.

Useful resources

For a summary of the help available from Job Centre Plus visit these pages on the Direct Gov website.

The National Careers Service

The National Careers Service have an extensive website covering all aspects of careers advice including training,  CVs and covering letters.   Careers Advisors are available face to face or via the website’s webchat feature and offer in depth guidance and by taking into account your background, qualifications and interests can help you to come to a decision regarding your next step via webchat or face to face. Webchat is available 8am – 10pm, seven days a week.  The website also provides a contact number for you to book a face to face appointment with a careers advisor in your area.

Permitted Work

If you are getting employment and support allowance (ESA) , incapacity benefit (IB), severe disablement allowance (SDA), national insurance credits or income support (IS) because of incapacity for work you are allowed to do some permitted work.  Permitted work can include paid employment or self employment.  You do not need the permission of a doctor to do permitted work but you should tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you are working.

Disability Rights UK  have more information on their site.

Training Providers

Learn Direct offer a variety of training opportunities and short employability courses for free if you are on qualifying benefits of ESA or JSA.  They also offer help with CV’s, job applications, IT courses etc.

N-Gaged provide free training and work placements to those on qualifying benefits.  They help you get catering and hospitality experience, a CSCS card and fork lift qualifications, amongst other things.


Volunteering is a great way of gaining confidence in being in a work environment but without too much pressure. It will help provide you with new skills, relevant experience, references, and plug any gaps in a CV. There is a central Bristol Volunteer Bureau, as well as local ones in South Gloucestershire. Look at these websites to see the scope of voluntary positions available:

College Courses

City of Bristol College (COBC) and Stroud and South Glos (SSGC) Colleges both run back to work courses from a variety of local sites throughout the city and region. Courses regularly offered free to those on ESA/JSA include: Care and Childcare; Retail and Customer Service; Business Administration; Security, Hospitality; Construction; IT.

COBC also offer 10 week Employability and Work Clubs, at which you can get support with CV writing, job search, and completing applications.

Go to for more information or contact the Hub Team on 0117 312 2088 or email them on

Not sure what to tell employers about your health?

NHS Choices  has guidance on sharing medical information with employers.