The Tyne & Wear organisation helping locals achieve their goals
Many people with complex health needs find themselves out of work and isolated, but young cancer survivor Britannia is thriving thanks to a local charity
Having complex health needs doesn’t have to mean the end of your dreams — just ask Brittania and the team at Moving On Tyne and Wear.
The single mum and artist, with a history of cancer, was at her wit’s end after her Employment Support Allowance (ESA) was removed and she was told to find a job.
“She’s spent a lot of her life unemployed after being diagnosed with cancer at a young age, something that has caused her to have complex health needs today,” said Helen, her navigator at Moving on, a charity that supports adults who are out of work because of their health.
“Just over a year ago, she found herself catching a break and securing a council house for her and her son after spending time living in a shelter. But just after securing her permanent residence, her ESA went under review.”
Brittania, who makes and sells bespoke handmade jewellery, unsuccessfully took the decision to a tribunal, but soon found herself on Job Seekers’ Allowance knowing she wasn’t well enough to work in a traditional capacity. She was also worried about how she could care for her son.
Things started to change, however, when Jobcentre Plus told Britannia about Moving On, which is jointly funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through Big Lottery Fund, and she met Helen.
“Over a couple of meetings, we got to know each other and started to formulate a plan for how she could create an income stream for her family to get back on her feet,” said Helen, adding they decided to focus on building Britannia’s Etsy jewellery shop into a stable business.
After a stint at business classes, it quickly become apparent they were not a good fit – but that didn’t stop the pair coming up with a solution.
Said Helen: “The classed were tailored to big business ambitions, something that didn’t match the style of Britannia’s handmade jewellery.
“When I asked what she would like her life to look like, she said she’d always dreamed of going to university to study fine art, but thought it was an unachievable pipedream because of the fees.”
When she found out about the funding options available to her as a single mum with a disability, they set about looking for the perfect course, and within just a few weeks was accepted into the university course of her dreams at Northumbria University.
“She was on track to achieve everything she’d always wanted,” said Helen, who has continued to work with Brittania by helping with her student finance application and making sure she is ready for everything the course entails.
“The support offered from Moving on Tyne and Wear’s navigators, continues after the programme participants are on track to achieve what they set out to. We continue to advise and encourage people to ensure what they’re doing is a good fit for their needs.”
Asked about her own role in Britannia’s story, Helen was very modest.
“I didn’t do the work. I’m the voice in her head telling her she can do it. I wouldn’t have recommended Brittania to apply for university if I didn’t think she was capable,” she said.
If you are over 18, unemployed and suffer from a health barrier, get in touch with Moving on Tyne and Wear to find out how they can support you to find a job, get into training or volunteering. Call 0191 217 3206 or visit https://www.motw.org.uk/ for more information.
Moving on Tyne and Wear is part of the Building Better Opportunities programme which is jointly funded through the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.