Jay discovers the recipe for success


Today I am proud to be a John Lewis Partner and am encouraged to feel that I have a part to play in the company’s success.

After being unemployed for two years, 60-year-old Jay Smith is brimming over with enthusiasm as she relishes her new catering role with the John Lewis Partnership. 

Jay is now a member of the team that provides mouth-watering meals for Partners at the London head office of John Lewis & Partners. But prior to being supported into employment by Central London Works, Central London’s version of the government’s Work and Health Programme, Jay faced a frustrating job search as she feared many employers put her age before her experience. 

“I have had some challenges to overcome during the last few years,” explained Jay, who lives in Hackney. “I’ve experienced severe stress and hypothyroidism that left me tired and depressed. I’ve had an operation for carpal tunnel syndrome, which compressed a nerve in my wrist and affected the use of my hands. 

“I was also worried that my age would be a barrier to gaining employment and I don’t have any past or recent qualifications. I really wanted to work for the John Lewis Partnership and their application process was about assessing your experience, which played to my strengths.” 

After searching for work for two years, Jay was referred to Central London Works by her job advisor at Jobcentre Plus, Tina Ozegbe. 

Central London Works is commissioned by Central London Forward and is delivered by Ingeus. It helps central London residents, who are long-term unemployed as well as people with health conditions to find sustainable work, and receives support from the European Social Fund. 

Ingeus case worker Andy Savva boosted Jay’s confidence by demonstrating the many transferable skills she’d gained from her previous work, while also revising her CV and helping to compose application letters. Jay also took part in mock interview sessions with Hackney hub guide, Ashanti Bennett, who assisted her with online forms, while a specialist Ingeus mental health practitioner helped Jay deal with her feelings of anxiety. She also attended several workshops recommended by the health team to better manage her general wellbeing and encourage healthier eating. 

“The Ingeus team helped me believe in myself and recognise my skills,” added Jay. “As soon as I walked into the Ingeus office, everyone was so positive. I felt confident that they could help me and then great things started to happen for me. I still call in to see them and Andy provides ongoing support to ensure that my work is going well and my health is maintained.” 

“Today I am proud to be a John Lewis Partner and am encouraged to feel that I have a part to play in the company’s success. I love being part of the catering team and I am constantly researching recipes and ideas.”