Find out what it’s like to work at Renaisi as Trudi James, Team Leader for the Journey2Work employment & advice service, shares her working day.

Trudi James

I’ve been the Team Leader for Renaisi’s Journey2Work programme going on two years now. My job entails helping the team develop by contributing to overall team performance, quality and compliance targets. I manage a small case load of my own participants and I also support the programme manager with various tasks.

How did your career journey start?

I migrated to the UK in 2000 when I was 16 and I lived in Leicester until 2015. Then one January morning, I thought I’m ready to move to the big city and I started to apply for jobs in London.

I’ve been working in the employability sector in 2009. Things in the employability sector have changed quite a bit since 2009 when we had the Flexible New Deal programme. It’s more challenging now but my job is still the same: helping people into sustainable employment.

What is a standard day like?

My standard day involves checking emails and my diary first. Then at 09:30 my team has a morning ‘huddle’. It gives us the opportunity to go through performance targets and to see one another. We’re not going into the office much at the moment, so we’ll have a discussion about general things, talk through plans and aims for the week, share ideas, and sometimes we have guest speakers.

After that, I’ll do caseload reviews with the advisors. Each advisor in my team has participants that they are dedicated to supporting one-on-one. They have regular telephone appointments with them where they go through things like CV writing, interview preparation, job searching, and discussing job applications. They also discuss the participants’ health and wellbeing – anything that might be a barrier to finding work so we can signpost them to local services and other expert providers for relevant support.

During the caseload review, I help advisors identify participants who are job-ready and discuss with them how we can get them into the right role. For participants who are further away from the job market, we explore what additional support they might need.

I also complete exit interviews with our participants so they can give me their feedback on their experience of Journey2Work. I ask open questions to give the participant the opportunity to share and be open about their experience, I always say “I want you to be very honest, because it’s only this way that we can improve on the service”. Recently COVID has impacted participant’s experience. It means they can’t have face-to-face support and many of our participants don’t have the digital resources to do certain things like job searching online. I hardly ever get a bad interview. Putting aside the fact that we’re there to help them back to work, a lot of people praise our advisors because they can rely on them to call and check up on them. They’re very appreciative of that, the fact that someone cares. And of course, they’re happy about getting back into work!

What skills do you need to be a team leader?

I would say that you need to be a good communicator and  show good leadership to keep advisors motivated. You certainly must be dedicated … The drive for me is to ensure that I’m not letting the team down, by helping them to meet targets and deadlines that are set each month, and ensuring that our participants are given the best possible experience.

It also helps to be very organised and good at time management because my day is generally a series of reviews with colleagues and participants, plus other tasks.

What’s different about Renaisi?

I’ve worked with lots of different employment providers and there are some differences at Renaisi. For a start, the participants that we work with on Journey2Work are all aged 40 plus. Many of them stopped working for health reasons or because of childcare but every circumstance is different. We try to support participants as individuals, not paint them all with the same brush. Renaisi’s support is tailored to their circumstance.

That is reflected in the exit interviews I do: 9 times out of 10 it’s praise. Participants say, “they’ve been very helpful … my advisor cares … they are very understanding.”

So, I think the difference is empathy.

Why did you choose this career?

It’s definitely for the love of helping people. That rewarding feeling that you get when you were able to make a difference in a person’s life.

For myself I want to keep developing and taking opportunities that come up. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to develop my own experience when I move to be team leader for Renaisi’s RISE programme, and whatever comes next.