Posts Taged anxiety

Staggering reduction in numbers for the unemployed!

Staggering unemployment results!

Getting the long term unemployed back to work

Government statistics yesterday told us that there were less than 2 million people unemployed. These are staggering unemployment results!  Is this just luck or a planned approach?  We worked with @protrainuk, last year on a pilot project as part of David Cameron’s agenda to try and get as many long term unemployed people back into work as possible.  Our project involved a combination of activities to raise their self-esteem and confidence, as well as enhance their core skills and the opportunity to gain a range of qualifications.   A tall order, especially when some of the participants could have fallen into the category outlined by Lord Freud as having “disabilities “, and so perhaps “could be paid as little as £2 an hour”

In relation to Lord Freud’s comment, the initial thing I noticed about working with this group, was the difference between who I thought I’d get on the course and who actually turned up.  My vision was coloured by the media who often portray this group of people as aggressive scroungers with violent dogs and unruly children. The type who you would see in the pubs all day, and who didn’t want to get a job unless it paid a minimum of £17,000 a year!

Unemployed or unemployable?

Don’t get me wrong, I did meet one or two people like that on this project, but the overwhelming majority were people who could have been you or I, who had experienced bad luck in work or their personal lives or suffered from mental health issues, from phobias, depression to full mental health breakdowns. On more than one occasion, I thought there but for the grace of God go I!  Would we be classed as having a disability and so be worth less in the job market?  In almost all cases, people WANTED to work, and would take any job, and had or were involved in voluntary work as well.Staggering unemployment results!

My role

For some individuals, our role was to challenge them, and say what they must do,  if they really wanted a job.  By offering constructive support most individuals in my groups rose to the challenge, and often began to think about what they could be and wanted to do.   We often were amazed during the mock interviews at seeing the change in people.  They were suited and booted and looked ready to tackle the world, and for these people being interviewed was as nerve racking as it got!  A significant number of my groups suffered from some form of panic attacks on the morning, but very few didn’t turn up, but went through the process, and tried their best to present themselves in as good a light as possible.
Myself and the other tutors ensured we built relationships with our groups, because we were going to be with them for a number of weeks and also to  be able to praise and support individuals when they felt they just couldn’t do it. Imagine what guts it took for them to enter a classroom environment with a load of other strangers in the first place. One man said to me, “You don’t know how many medical drugs I need to take just to be able to step foot outside of my front door”. Another told me “I have to fight with myself to come here everyday. My fear can be overwhelming”.  Some of these were the people that Lord Freud could have been referring to, and I must say, I felt passionate and proud of my involvement in this project, and honoured to meet some of these people, who had overcome so much anxiety and adversity to even get to my classroom door.  This took guts to do and probably was harder to overcome than the potential loss of some of their benefit, as was a sanction at the time, under the ‘Help to Work: New unemployment rules in force’.

The focus of the work we did with this group of clients, was no different to any we do with corporate training or personal coaching.  It still focused on developing individual’s self-esteem and self-confidence, and encouraging them to take risks in a learning environment. They developed key communication skills, both written and verbal, and also had the opportunity to gain accredited qualifications.  The only difference being, very few people thought this group would actually succeed in achieving these things.  They did!

What’s your view on how to help people return to work after a period of unemployment?  Contact Paula  @therealme_PDP

How can schools support children living in difficult conditions?

How can schools support children living in difficult conditions

This blog is written in response to a Linked In (Early Years Training Group) article by Leah Davies in which she questions how American schools can support children living in difficult conditions, citing homelessness as a key area.  My immediate response was that schools in the UK don’t face this same issue, as in my long career in education, as a teacher and through supporting children and young people with a range of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, I hadn’t come across “homeless children” before (which I associated with living on the streets), nor had schools highlighted  children living in this manner.How can schools support children living in difficult conditions?

I then realised how naïve this sounded, and researched the term “homeless children in the UK” and found a number of references to this group, but not necessarily referring to them living on the streets, but families staying in temporary accommodation, such as B&B’s, sleeping on friends floors and sofas or whole families sharing one room.  There is also reference to children living in domestic violence shelters. All of these situations I have come across and worked with both children and parents living in these conditions, but saw their situation as different to being literally homeless.How can schools support childrnen living in difficult conditions?

The issues facing these children are the same as Leah mentioned in her article, “Homeless families have no shelter of their own, are often hungry…live in emergency or transitional shelters”.   and from my experiences there is a distinct lack of space, few personal possessions and an underlying feeling of unease or fear of being threatened.  One mother living in a B&B with a baby and a 3 year old admitted to locking them in her bedroom when she went to have a shower,, to make sure they were safe and that no-one could get into her room.  How is that safe?  How can she be sure that neither child won’t harm themselves?  How can she have a shower in peace and relax?

How can schools support childrn living in difficult conditions?

A common problem for families living in these conditions, is their heightened sensitivity to what is happening around them.  They are not in a familiar environment, in a B&B they cannot control who stays in the room next door, and so may be housed with those who have drink, drug or anger issues, as well as mental health problems.  My child sleeps in a familiar bedroom, with familiar toys, the same routine and peace.  These children may be in rooms next to loud tvs, people shouting, swearing or arguingThe young people are not only sharing a room, but at times also a bed with their parents or siblings, so a restful night’s sleep is impossible!  The National Children’s Bureau  highlights how poverty and disadvantage will cause children to “lag far behind their more affluent peers in almost all areas of their lives”

How can schools support children living in difficult conditions?

There may be issues around concentrating in the classroom and so set short tasks requiring focused concentration, with a more practical activity or discussion to follow up on learning.  By changing the learning style, this can keep the child on task for longer.

Give the child space…

Acknowledge and arrange for the child to have ‘headspace’ or time to let off steam, if they are living in a noisy or cramped environment or have to be quiet so as no to upset or disturb those living around them.

Where can homework be done…

Be aware the child may need to complete homework during the day, due to not having a table or space to do so outside of school.  Ensure this can be achieved without the child missing much needed break times?

Involve appropriate professionals…

Involve the Senco and local agencies, with parental permission, to assist the family in their housing issue or to offer support in other ways.


Know and understand the family’s situation.  Don’t be embarrassed to find out.  You can’t support the child if you don’t understand the problems.

Be aware for things going missing…

There may be issues around ‘borrowing’ school items or those from other children, especially if the child has very few possessions of their own, or they get lost due to the transient nature of their living arrangement.  Provide the child with his or her own set of equipment, pencil, ruler etc that can be left in school .

Issues with sharing…

The child may have difficulty sharing, as they may feel the object will be taken away from them and not returned.  Use circle time to discuss the principles of sharing, and have class toys/equipment that are readily available for the child to use, especially when they need comforting or re-focusing after an outburst.

Anxiety issues coming to the fore…

Recognise the child may be suffering from anxiety and need a lot of reassurance, praise and appropriate reward systems to improve his or her self confidence and self esteem.

Focus on inappropriate behaviour…

Deal with temper tantrums and behaviour outbursts calmly but firmly.  Children whose home lives are vicarious and potentially chaotic need boundaries within which they can express how they are feeling safely, and in which the same responses to their behaviour will be given each time.

 How can schools support children living in difficult conditions?

Do you think children in your school or Nursery may be living in uncertain circumstances, and show their anxiety in their behaviour?

If so, get in touch with me for some fresh ideas!

Nerves happen to everyone

Nerves hit us physically!

My stomach was churning this morning, as I hadn’t worked in London fonervesr a couple of months and had got out of the habit of the daily commute. Trying to get the timing right, park the car, buy the ticket and literally get on the train with a minute to spare!





I had a new group of people to train, plus an unknown venue and felt pressurised to arrive cool, calm and collected.

Almost as if I had willed it, events began to unravel. No paperwork had been prepared for me, so I was unable to get past security. My phone had no signal and so I couldn’t get my work contact’s’ details, and time was ticking by to the start of my training.

NervesThis anxiety is natural and usual for most of us.  The difference is how we, as individuals, deal with it.


For me, I had to assess the practical options as the course time was drawing nearer, and although everyone was being as helpful as possible, I still wasn’t any nearer setting up for my course!   I had to let go of the nerves and associated feelings of anxiety and tension and accept the reality of the situation,, as well as quickly come up with a fall back plan!  It’s about acknowledging these feelings but then moving from this emotional state to being pro-active and dealing with each obstacle rather then feeling ‘stuck’ and unable to cope.  what do you do?  I loved reading in the Metro today, that Rihanna used coaching to boost her self confidence before meeting her public.  it happens to us all.

Contact Paula or Richard if you want help overcoming these nerves.


Notes from a party

How awkward is it walking into a party as a couple when you don’t know many people? Do you smile manically at anyone looking your way,or ignore everyone and begin an animated conversation between yourselves and make it appear interesting to anyone looking your way? How much more difficult is it if you go to the party alone?

Alone at a party