From life of multiple addictions to a life of confidence and purpose in less than three years – Sue’s* journey is an inspiring example of the power of taking personal responsibility for change.
Sue was 44 when she first made contact with Workwise. She had been using class A and B drugs since the age of 12. Her adolescence was turbulent: her mother became ill and died of cancer and Sue subsequently battled long-term addictions to cocaine, marijuana and alcohol.
In 2008, within a six-week period, Sue suffered further significant loss and grief. She attended five funerals for family members and close friends.
This difficult period was the catalyst for change. Sue had completed numerous rehabilitation programmes in the past, with little result. By early 2009 Sue had made the decision to review her life and take control. The first step she decided on was to be alcohol-free from that day onwards. Sue was successful in this, although her marijuana use continued.
“I met Sue when she came to Workwise in November 2009,” says Sue’s employment consultant Marie*. “Sue wanted assistance to secure part-time work. She told me she wanted a ‘no brainer’ job – just to get back into the workforce.”
Sue had always looked for driving jobs or store work. These gave her minimal contact with the public and she worked predominantly around men. With Marie’s support, Sue applied for a car grooming position.
“In order to prepare Sue, we carried out mock interviews,” says Marie. “Sue also got some new clothes from Dress for Success. The careful preparation and new clothes noticeably increased her confidence.”
Sue’s interview for the car grooming position with a rental firm was successful. She started work in January 2010. After only three days in the job, Sue was offered the second-in-charge position. The position involved administration, dealing with the public, bookings and dealing with compliments and complaints. Sue chose to accept the new role, feeling it would enhance her self-esteem.
“Sue’s employers truly believed she had the ability to successfully fulfil the role,” says Marie. “And they were right – she thrived! A short time later, Sue was offered the sole manager position of a company branch in another region.
Marie and Sue had several discussions about the extra responsibilities being sole manager would bring. They talked about what the relocation would mean for Sue, including reduced support, isolation, and the anticipated pressures of a manager’s job. After putting plans in place and with the help of family Sue took the promotion and made the move.
“Sue says that employment has given her confidence in so many areas – including initiating conversations, giving her meaning and purpose, money for clothes she could only dream of owning, the confidence to reconnect with successful cousins she went to school with and the feeling of having total control of her life,” says Marie. “It has also helped with her quest to remain alcohol and drug-free. Sue had not used marijuana since starting the job and she felt that employment was pivotal to her on-going success.”
Sue’s plan is to stay in her current job for the time being then return to her home town to work in a similar role some time in the future.
“It’s been an amazing journey, watching a very quietly spoken woman with many issues develop into a confident woman with purpose,” says Marie. “Sue is living proof of the power of making a personal commitment to change.”