Chloe James 1

Caring Chloe revelling in her dream job with Oxford Community Support Service

Working at the Oxford Community Support Service has been like a dream come true for Chloe James.

Chloe grew up with a speech impediment and feared that would prevent her from one day becoming a carer.

But with support from Oxfordshire Employment, the 20-year-old has been employed as an assistant support worker since the end of November.

Oxfordshire Employment sits within the county council’s Adult Social Care directorate and helps people with a health or disability barrier to find sustained work.

That’s all part of the council’s commitment to thriving communities – we help people live safe, healthy lives and play an active part in their community.

Highly-commended award

Oxfordshire Employment’s work has seen it receive a highly-commended team award from the British Association of Supported Employment (BASE).

And Chloe is one of the latest to benefit, becoming the first to feature on a Pathway to Care project and helping to look after the 50 daily visitors to the Oxford Community Support Service.

She was put on an initial six-month contract working three days a week, but has proved such a welcome addition that she now works four days a week.

Chloe said: “I absolutely love it here and would love to stay for as long as they’ll have me. I enjoy helping the visitors and doing all the activities with them. I think I’ve always had a caring personality and this is my dream job.”

Chloe says she struggled to speak from about the age of six. She attended The Iffley Academy special education school, where she became head girl, and later the City of Oxford College.

After leaving college she worked for County Print Finishers, which is operated by Oxfordshire Employment, performing various roles in the factory.

Blazing a trail

Peter Newman was her employment advisor, reviewing her progress over 24 months.

He explained: “I could see Chloe had very good social skills and was really supportive to everyone in the team. She was potentially someone who could work in a social care setting.

“We contacted the Community Support Service as the Pathway to Care programme was about to start and, in effect, Chloe has been blazing a trail since then.”

Chloe admitted Peter was a big help in the lead-up to her interview with the centre in Awgar Stone Road, Horspath.

“I honestly don’t think I’d be working here if it wasn’t for his support,” she said. “I look back now and can’t believe how things have changed for the better. I’m really proud.”

Oxford Community Support Service team manager Sally Marchant described Chloe as a ‘superstar’.

She said: “Chloe has been amazing. She’s grown in confidence in the time she’s been here and I’ve noticed she has great empathy with the people we support. It’s very natural and comes from the heart.

“It’s the first time we’ve worked with Oxfordshire Employment to give someone an opportunity like this and it has proved a really valuable experience.”

Long line of success stories

Will Gardner, unit manager at Oxfordshire Employment, said Chloe’s journey was the latest in a long line of success stories which had helped it to impress BASE judges.

He said: “The award recognises the service we’re providing as a whole. We’re helping to support people to find employment by putting them on a host of different pathways.

“Using a variety of funding schemes we have enabled individual journeys, delivering excellent results in moving people to external employment. We have 12 short-term places and supported 11 people to move on in the past year.

“Supported internships – delivered in partnership with Mencap – have continued to succeed, with the 2017 cohort achieving 52 per cent overall employment at the end of the programme, and the 2018 cohort achieving 66 per cent.

“We also continue to work on the Government’s Work Choice programme, supporting remaining clients into employment – meeting and exceeding monthly targets as we have regularly for many years.

“Oxfordshire Employment is also Oxfordshire’s only Disability Confident Leader and has recently mentored another employer to start their Disability Confident journey.

“The team has shown commitment, innovation and the ability to deliver excellent outcomes to the people of Oxfordshire.”