WHEN hard-working mum Jennifer Nixon’s daughter was diagnosed with diabetes and autism at the age of four she had to stop work to look after her.

A full-time carer, the rug was then pulled out from underneath her when she lost her disability living allowance.

Left with no choice but to find work again she suddenly found herself struggling to secure a job, despite having previously held a number of office manager positions.

Now at “rock bottom” with anxiety and depression she came into contact with an Employment Support Mentor at a Cheshire West and Chester Council Work Zone.

Put simply, he changed her life and now she is telling her story to help the authority trumpet the vital service.

Since April 2017, the Work Zone mentors have supported approximately 700 people into work and helped more than 2,500 since Work Zones opened in 2013.

Jennifer, who now has part-time work as a customer service advisor, said: “I was my daughter’s full-time carer but I lost her disability living allowance, so I started looking for work but couldn’t get a job.

“I then began to lose my confidence, got depression and started to suffer from anxiety. I got to the point that I did not have the confidence to go into places for interviews.”

She said the Work Zone staff helped her tremendously and asked whether she needed to be referred to a counsellor.

“They gave me back my confidence and said I had the skills to get a job,” she said. “The mentor said they were confident they could help me find me work and taught me how to blow my own trumpet. I was told I had the right attitude for work.”

Jennifer, from Ellesmere Port, added: “I feel like a different person. I was isolated before, at home with my daughter. Now I can enjoy the social side of work and it is very different to before. I have my confidence back.”

The Work Zones were set up by CWaC to help people into employment by having a service with single point of contact.

Job seekers are referred to Work Zones by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or people can make a self-referral.

A partnership approach involving the council, DWP, educators, and employers means that job seekers can be assessed, mentored, trained and introduced to potential employers when they are work-ready.

There are four Work Zones in Chester, Ellesmere Port, Northwich and Winsford and each have Employment Support Mentors who assess people’s skills as well as taking stock of all the other factors that impact on their life before creating an agreed action plan.

Cllr Brian Clarke, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure, said: “Work Zones are highly valued by our customers and partners. They continue to perform strongly, delivering financial and social benefits. The number of people that Work Zones have helped into employment has risen year on year. Work Zones continue to provide an effective solution to unemployment, and I am glad to say our performance figures support my opinion.”

Anyone who needs help finding work can contact a Work Zone by visiting www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/workzone or calling Ellesmere Port 0151 356 6667, Chester 01244 976028, Northwich 01606 288540, or Winsford 01606 288901.