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From homelessness to employment - one of the many ways your donations help

Mark Kendall is the employment and support worker at The Connection at St Martin’s, a homelessness charity in central London. Here he describes working with clients, as they prepare for employment and finding the right path for themselves.

Mark Kendall, employment and support worker at The Connection in London

The first time I meet a new client, we do a support needs assessment, followed by a careers action plan. Needless to say, the action plan is the part clients like best. No longer are we discussing their obstacles and barriers but now exploring their goals. Speaking for myself, I like it too because I discover loads of interesting things about the life of a fellow human being – a little bit about the course of their life.

Preparing a CV with someone is a very personal thing

If I go on to assist with their CV, I learn a whole lot more. Preparing a CV with someone is a very personal thing and an overwhelmingly positive process. Sure, the chronological nature of a CV usually gets to reveal where things went wrong, but because you are exploring how to address the gaps in the best possible light, it’s aspirational.

It encourages them to open up and tell you all about their positives: their strengths, their interests and achievements. In partnership with volunteers we run a series of CV workshops. Time and again the comments from volunteers enthuse about the great skills and experience of the client they worked with and the surprises that were revealed.

After clients have attended these workshops I notice an increase in their confidence, motivation and attendance

I remember at one of last year’s workshops a volunteer was working with a client I had registered earlier that week and called me over to tell me that the client was an accomplished marathon runner - both of them beaming at me as he said it - and I’d had no idea of that hidden talent!

After clients have attended these CV workshops I invariably notice an increase in their confidence, motivation and attendance the following week. To me this is a window of opportunity to be capitalised upon before it wears off and I am sure it’s no coincidence that so many clients find work soon after they have attended a workshop.

It’s fair to say that not all our clients may be work-ready but even those that aren’t can emerge with a renewed motivation and openness to suggestions for something that might be more suitable, such as a course or voluntary work.

The Connection at St Martin’s is a registered homelessness charity located in the heart of London next to St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square. The Connection works with approximately 4,000 homeless people every year to move away from, and stay off the streets of London.