Michelle Porter

Monday 12th May 2014

Michelle Porter

Serious depression robbed Michelle of her energy for years, meaning she had never had a job, but all that has changed since starting on the SE17Working Programme.


Serious depression, had robbed Michelle of her energy for years, meaning she had never had a job, but all that has changed.

How long had you been out of work before you joined SE17working?

I had been unemployed since 1994, I had terrible depression. I had no energy, every day was like ground hog day. You know you are bored, but can’t do anything, there’s just nothing in the tank.

What changed?

One day I was looking in the mirror, and I suddenly just knew that something had to change. It was like sleeping beauty, I just woke up. I had this feeling that if I died, apart from my children, then what else would I have left behind. I had to do something.

What did you do with SE17 working? How did it help?

I started with a kind of counselling course, a proper counsellor standing up and talk about different characteristics, I realised that I had been stuck in quite a childish stage.

Then I did the pop-up shop, and I did everything! I was painting the shop, cleaning, dusting – oh my god the dust! But it was real team work, we were all in it together. I started to feel more confident, I was smiling every day - I had a reason to get up in the morning. It was the little things as well, like being manager of the shop for the day, someone just handing over the keys and trusting me.

What job did you find?

I got a job as a Meal Supervision at Walworth Academy. I get out the equipment for the children to play with, set up the tables, clean them, take out the bins. It might be boring to some people, but to me it’s exhilarating.

How do you feel now you are employed?

I love my job, I can’t wait to get to work every morning, in fact I get in early. My family all say I am a lot more bubbly now. I like talking to the children and the teachers at the school, I feel that they can see something in me that they trust and that makes me feel good.

Are you better off now you are working?

It is not about that. Benefits pay for this and that, the same way, but that’s someone else’s money. I have the accomplishment of earning my money. Every month I see my payslip and I think, I did that!

What would advice would you give to anyone looking for work?

No one else can change you but you. You have to look inside yourself and really know who you are. Then other people will be able assist you, but only then.