Daren De Vries, 42, from the Oxgangs area, was last in paid employment in 1993 when he had jobs on building sites. He had time out to help raise his children but then struggled to find work when he wanted to return.
Not getting the support he craved, his life spiralled out of control. He eventually turned to drugs, experienced homelessness, lost contact with his children and now has a criminal record.
But his fortunes changed after being referred by Jobcentre Plus to Working Links, which delivers the Work Programme in Scotland.
Despite initially being reluctant to engage, deep down Daren wanted to change his prospects and get out of the rut he was in. Partnered with personal consultant Debbie Taylor, he began his journey back to the workplace.
He said: “I was helping to raise my children up to the age of 30 and when they went into school I tried to get into work but couldn’t. I kept getting passed from pillar to post. For 18 months I didn’t even sign on because I thought I wasn’t being listened to or supported.
“Then my dad died which hit me really hard. I turned to drugs and I went downhill. It wasn’t good and I knew it was wrong. It was down to my own stupidity, but fortunately I’ve come out of it the other side.”
Working with Debbie, Daren obtained new right to work documentation, created a brand new CV and started to build his confidence again. He completed English, maths and IT qualifications using Working Links’ bespoke online tools for jobseekers and started to engage on a drug programme alongside daily job searching and employability training.
Employer services consultant Lesley Yule worked to try and find suitable vacancies for Daren, landing him an interview at Krispy Kreme – after just three months on the programme.
Working Links funded new interview clothes and, using new-found interview skills, he impressed his would-be managers and was given a work trial where he shone again.
He added: “Everyone at Working Links has been brilliant, especially Debbie. They’ve all taken the time to listen to me and take an interest in what I have to say. I’ve done courses in English and maths – things I didn’t even think I could do – and done a lot of work on the computer to help me with my skills.
“I’m really happy to be back in work. I take my hat off to the team at Working Links.”
Daren will be supported by Working Links while in work at Krispy Kreme and have supported him financially while he awaits his first pay packet, making the transition from unemployed to employed easier.
Back in work, Daren is now hoping to use his life experiences to help others who may be in similar situations. He said: “I’d like to help other people in the future and talk about my experiences. This is just the start.”
Lorna Beaton, performance manager at Working Links, said: “Daren was unrecognisable to the team from the customer who had only first came to the office three and half months before. Teamwork and inspiring our customers has been key to delivering this type of success.”