Fair Start Scotland - evaluation report 5: qualitative interviews with service participants - years 4 and 5 - November 2023

Part of a series of reports on the evaluation of Fair Start Scotland (FSS) employability service. The report presents findings from a series of qualitative interviews with FSS participants. The report covers years 4 and 5 (April 2021 to March 2023) of FSS delivery.

Appendix 1: Individual participants' case studies

Individual case study 1: David

David, 21 years old is originally from England and moved to the Highlands and Islands area with family as a child. He has a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome[16]. He has not previously held any form of stable employment, although he has had short-term work in farming, fishing and hospitality.

David has a limited educational background. He is autistic which meant that sometimes he struggles in social settings. He wants to work part-time as he finds full-time work "overwhelming".

"I've had some local businesses that didn't get the whole Aspergers part of it. Some of them thought I was being rude […] that would annoy co-workers and then the boss."

The Jobcentre referred him to FSS for help with finding permanent work.

He found help from FSS with interview skills particularly useful as he has found this stage of applying for jobs difficult. FSS also generally boosted his confidence because it required him to interact with new people in a supportive environment.

"They've been very good at easing me through what was a very difficult time for me; very understanding – didn't push too hard, then pushed a bit and are always very happy when I achieved something."

Since joining FSS in July 2022, he has found work through two seasonal jobs. He kept in touch with the service for In-Work Support whilst he held these jobs and was able to re-join after each job ended.

David said that he was initially skeptical that the service would be helpful to him, however he feels he has benefited from how tailored the content was, and would recommend it to others in his situation. Although David had not yet found stable employment, he is hopeful the additional experience he has gained will help him to do so.

"I have a much more positive feeling when it comes to looking for work. They've shown me I've got more value than I thought I had and boosted my confidence."

Individual case study 2: Gemma

Gemma is in her late 30s and has been in part-time employment for the past 18 months as an IT analyst. At the point when she joined FSS in Spring 2020 she had been unemployed for a year after leaving her previous care job and college course because she was diagnosed with chronic osteoarthritis.

After leaving her care job and stopping her college course, she was applying sporadically for receptionist roles because she felt this role would be better suited to her needs a result of her health condition. However, she had no qualifications in this area and did not feel particularly motivated to find that type of work.

She was hoping that FSS could help her build back her confidence and give her ideas on different careers as well as help on getting some training.

After joining FSS, her key worker helped her improve her CV, and she participated in training sessions on confidence building and interview techniques.

One of the most significant changes for her however was realising, with the help of her key worker, that she had many transferable skills she could offer employers, that were not impacted by her disability.

"Sometimes, you can't make the changes until you have somebody behind you saying it's okay to make the changes. That's what Fair Start [Scotland] offers. I think it's an essential service."

After joining FSS, she got a job as an IT analyst in a call centre. For the first few months she really appreciated knowing the FSS were there if she "needed an advocate for her health".

"The more motivated I got, the less support I needed. They're really good at focusing on what's needed."

She remains in employment in the same role, but no longer receives support from FSS as her time on the service has come to an end. She feels reassured though that the service is there is she needs it again in the future.

Individual case study 3: Ali

Ali came to Scotland in 2008 as a refugee. He was granted Leave to Remain and the right to work. Most recently he was working as a chef but was let go due to Covid-19 impacting business.

He has worked in a range of casual jobs (e.g. cleaning, catering) over the years but was looking for something more permanent.

He heard about FSS through a friend and mentioned the service to his work coach at the Job Centre who encouraged him to sign up.

He hoped FSS would be able to help him with job applications as his written English was poor, and with training to become a security guard.

FSS gave him access to a computer, helped him with job applications, helped him take a training course to become a security officer and helped him financially (including for travel and benefit applications).

He was able to get a job in security and a job at Tesco but he was eventually let go due to not having the required biometric identity documents.

FSS kept in touch with him by phone after he started his job and this contact continued when he was let go.

His key worker has spoken to the Home Office on his behalf trying to get him bio-metric ID documents.

He was very grateful for all the support he has received.

"Everything was great, everything fantastic. Very kind, very helpful, very friendly. 100% happy."

His focus is now to get a new immigration lawyer and apply for a biometric ID. He is conscious he won't be able to find permanent work without this.


Email: employabilityresearch@gov.scot

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