Darren went from being in the military to helping people find a career path

I came into housing via quite an unconventional career path, beginning as a Sergeant Instructor in the Royal Military Police. When I left the military, I retrained and did a teaching degree, before working as a teacher at Coleg Gwent.

I loved watching people learn, and being able to teach them and set them on their own career path, but felt like I could do more.

That opportunity to help people came when I saw a position advertised with Tai Calon as an Employment and Enterprise Coach in early 2019. In my role, I help people to build their confidence and drive them to realise their potential, not just for Tai Calon tenants, but anyone in the local community who needs support. It’s so rewarding to see people succeed, I recently heard from one person I had supported, who is now in the Welsh Guards.

I have also established a Duke of Edinburgh hub, engaging with young people in the local community who have different learning abilities and teaching them new skills and building confidence. We had 12 young people complete the Bronze award last year!

With the Covid-19 pandemic, my role has changed a lot, and I have been supporting colleagues by delivering food in the local community. Though the face to face employment support has been put on hold, I’ve found this time invaluable in building relationships with members of the community, and I have been able to offer support or signpost tenants to people who can help.

With many people now furloughed, or let go from their jobs due to the crisis, I spotted an opportunity to support them with upskilling, and preparing for going back to work in the near future. I got in touch with the Department for Work and Pensions, and Remploy, and have put together resources which now offer free online training. Five Tai Calon tenants are already signed up and are now receiving tailored one to one support which will help them get back into work.

Once this is all over, I’m looking forward to help setting up a community garden, which will have a café, and allotment and will run classes for all ages ranging from cooking to gardening skills.

Darren is an Employment and Enterprise Coach with Tai Calon