Coming into work each day surrounded by teammates and the chance to learn new skills, Ryan Rusholme is a world away from where he was just a few months ago.

The 23-year-old had struggled with his mental health for a while, but the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and last year’s lockdown put him in a darker place.

“I was struggling with life,” said Ryan. “I had lost my way a little bit, then covid came along and it started to affect my mental health more.”

Ryan bravely spoke up and was referred to Pure Innovations. The charity supports a diverse range of local people to live independent, healthy and valued lives through a series of programmes.

They include community cafes, like Dunwood Park Café and the Boathouse Café in Alexandra Park, which give people the chance to learn catering, hospitality and retail skills, supported internships, education and support to help people into employment.

Being unemployed was one of the biggest issues getting Ryan down. Keen to begin a career in construction, his support worker Rachael Taylor set about helping him to turn a corner.

Rachael is an employment officer for Pure Innovations’ Supported Employment service. The charity works across Oldham and believes that with the right support, anyone can find the right career and thrive in work.

Their bespoke service works with both employees and employers to match the right people with the right organisations to secure a sustainable job.

Rachael matched Ryan with Oldham-based Rowan Ashworth Ltd. The company is currently working on highways and infrastructure projects in the borough.

As an Oldham Council contractor, Rowan Ashworth is delivering the project in line with the council’s social value procurement framework.

It means all suppliers of council services must deliver on principles like getting more local people in work, supporting other local businesses and contributing to the community.

Rowan Ashworth, which has successfully worked with Pure Innovations before, were delighted to be involved again. Rachael helped Ryan to prepare for interviews and after successfully getting the job, Rowan Ashworth ensured the transition was not overwhelming.

Ryan said: “They eased me into work and I started off just doing two days at first and then gradually built up to full time.

“I’m really enjoying it and I’ve been able to work on lots of different aspects of the job to see what area I would like to go into. I’ve worked on things like stonemasonry, test digs, electrics and groundworks – which has been my favourite so far.”

He’s also being supported into completing professional qualifications including his CSCS Card and machinery competency certifications.

“I’m hoping to get my driving licence soon, get my qualifications, and eventually start working my way up the ranks,” said Ryan.

“It’s been really good to get back into work, working with the lads and building friendships. It’s made a big difference to my mental health. I’m not 100% but I’m three quarters of the way there.”

Cllr Arooj Shah, Oldham Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic and Social Reform, said: “I’m so pleased for Ryan – he’s an inspiration. He should be really proud that in telling his story, he has shone a light on mental health, which affects so many people but especially young men. We wish him all the best for the future.

“Our social value principles are so much more than just a policy – they truly do make a difference to people’s lives in our borough, and we will continue striving to push the boundaries of what we can achieve in partnership with our suppliers.”

Stuart Lowe, Director at Rowan Ashworth Ltd, said: “Ryan is an asset to the company and has impressed us with his determination and enthusiasm for the job.

“It’s important that our workforce reflects the diversity of our communities, and as an Oldham-based company, we’re really proud to be playing our part in making a positive difference in our hometown.”

Rachael Taylor, employment officer for Pure Innovations’ Supported Employment scheme, said: “It’s been wonderful to work with Ryan and see him go from strength to strength.

“Pure Innovations has a wealth of support available. If you think we can help you, or you are a company that would like to get involved in offering people much-needed sustainable employment, please get in touch.”

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