Sonia is in her early 30s and has a moderate to severe hearing loss. She came to NESS five years ago, describes herself as having been “lost, confused, not sure what to do and with a small baby”. Sonia goes on to say “I was determined that I couldn’t go on like this and poured out all of my fear and worries, all of my concerns about education and jobs. I wanted to look after my daughter, and I knew I needed help”.
Sonia was initially directed to NESS to get some help with her benefits. She says “I was having problems with my benefits and the social worker helped me to get benefits that I was entitled to, including ones I had never heard of. She told me what I was entitled to and helped me to fill in the form, helping me to know what to say on the forms”.
NESS also helped Sonia get some equipment for her home, including a flashing doorbell, so she knew when someone was at her front door helping Sonia feel less isolated.
Sonia worked with our Employment Officer, who helped Sonia explore her options step by step. Sonia says, “The fact that she called back, she gave me hope and confidence that I could do this”. Our Employment Officer helped Sonia to apply for childcare, including applying for funding. She supported Sonia to visit the college to discuss the support that she would need to attend college. “Previously I had always failed at college, and I had lost hope but now I knew I wanted to do something. I didn’t have the confidence from my experiences over the years, I didn’t know what to say or what to ask. Janice offered to come with me which went well. Having someone by my side, willing to work with me, supporting me, and listening to me, helped me to believe that I could do it”.
With our Employment Officer’s support, Sonia was able to explain what she would need at college, and this in turn meant she got the right support and was able to complete her college course. “When I passed the first year and then the next year it was “Wow” – it was the first time that I had gone past the first level for the same course. I did lots of courses but never past the first level”. Sonia explains that she talked through any concerns she had about her college course with Janice when they cropped up, meaning she was able to address them.
When Sonia successfully completed her college course, she was offered a part time job, working in a solicitors’ company. Because Sonia is deaf and relies on hearing aids and lipreading to communicate, she found answering the telephone difficult at work. With support from our Employment Officer and her employer, Sonia was put in touch with the Access to Work scheme*, who organised some equipment that worked with the phone so Sonia could hear better, and equipment to alert her to when another client entered the office.
Despite all of the restrictions during the Covid pandemic, Sonia is excited to be starting her HNC in Administration at the local College.
“NESS has been right beside me through the whole thing, supporting me through college, and still checking in with me. NESS has helped me be much more independent, to stand up for myself, and given me my freedom. I would not be where I am now without NESS.
*Access to Work is a Department for Work and Pensions scheme that contributes to the costs of reasonable adjustments that someone who has a disability might need to maintain their employment.