Double job joy for homeless couple

Kennedy Scott has found work for a homeless couple living in a tent in woodland.

Dawn, 37 and Steven, 29 were both referred to Kennedy Scott’s Work Programme. Dawn was made homeless after a house fire, and arrears in rent meant that she was not eligible for re-housing by the council. At this point Dawn began sharing the tent with her partner Steven.

Steven left prison in 2010 and partner Dawn was released at the end of last year. The couple’s previous criminal convictions and living conditions created a barrier for them getting back to work.

Dawn was referred to Kennedy Scott in November 2013 and her partner Steven was referred in March 2014. Both were assigned individual Employment Consultants. These Employment Consultants recognised that their criminal records were proving a problem with potential employers, and so they were both referred to Kennedy Scott’s Ex-Offender Liaison Officer Val, who is based in Maidstone.

Val enrolled Steven with Blue Sky, a charity which provides training and employment opportunities to ex-offenders, but there were no vacancies available at the time. Val contacted Blue Sky’s resettlement officer who provided Val with some further contact numbers.

When Steven came into the centre for a follow up appointment he got into contact with the numbers provided and was immediately offered a labouring job which he accepted.

Meanwhile partner Dawn was seeking retail work, but with a criminal record to declare she was finding it difficult. Val approached Sandra, the Area Commercial Manager at the Kennedy Scott Maidstone centre. Both of their efforts resulted in securing Dawn a one week work placement in a retail store. Dawn impressed her employers, resulting in an offer of permanent employment. Kennedy Scott provided the couple with the necessary clothing and travel money in order for them to continue to thrive in their new jobs.

Ex-Offender Liaison Officer Val said: “Both Dawn and Steve started out quite despondent and not really believing that their situation could change, especially as they both realised the criminal convictions were the main barrier to them gaining employment. After a few confidence and motivation sessions and group participation with the ex-offender groups they gained confidence.

“Despite being homeless-and living in a tent, they always came into the centre smart enough to attend interview. They would use the Day Centre to get showers, do laundry and get a hot meal. They were both very polite and always participated fully in everything asked of them. It is great to see them now they are both working and looking so happy.”

Since the beginning of her employment, Dawn is now on a payment plan to pay back the arrears, meaning that she may become eligible for council housing soon. Val then referred Dawn to the charity “Catching Lives,”- who give help and advice to the homeless. The charity is presently advising her on how to proceed. Dawn and Steven are now saving a little each week, from their wages, with the aim of putting down a deposit on a flat themselves in case that the Council are unable to help them.

Steven is due to begin his Level 3 Painter and Decorator course and his employer has allowed him one day off a week to complete this at a nearby college. Kennedy Scott Maidstone continues to offer ongoing support to the couple.

Dawn and Steven are just one example of people in challenging circumstances whom Kennedy Scott have worked with in order to get them back into the work-place, giving them a fresh start and hope for the future.