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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Redundancy Makes Us Better?

It's what LinkedIn tells us regularly right?! I have seen a few posts with people saying "my redundancy made me think about what I really wanted" blah blah blah and all that. But does it really?

As some of you know I have recently been in the situation where an organisational restructure has meant I was offered redundancy. My role has been one that I enjoyed hugely, in fact I wasn't even looking out for the next job. You know like you sometimes do, keeping an eye out for a cool job that would be an exciting new opportunity. I was satisfied with my workplace. I really liked the 5 -10 people I worked closely with and the students I supported. It was a rewarding job, I particularly enjoyed helping raise awareness of mental and sexual health along with the support services available to young people.

However situations and priorities change, and I found myself in the crappy situation of potential redundancy in December of all times. My thoughts of that experience are not great, however my blog is not the appropriate place to express that in great detail (hence why I never say where I work). But, there was one thing that really stood out for me. That was the lip service paid to mental health.

I was actually pleased to hear mental health (kind of) mentioned during meetings, in relation to the potential reaction upon hearing this news. They have actually thought about 'the people' I thought. While this wasn't good news to receive, I'll give you that, it wasn't the worst.

In the last few years I experienced low self worth, thoughts of self harm and suicide. So potentially losing a job really didn't seem too bad. I guess my experience has changed my perspective on some things. Plus, I'm a keep emotions in kinda person, especially at work.

However, this positive mental health moment didn't last. After my first meeting I was provided with papers outlining the intended change, along with support material. One of which was a leaflet for staff counselling. Great right? Nope! Because this 'leaflet' wasn't folded in 3 as it should be. Nope, its been printed off and stuffed in an envelope along with the others being handed out. No thought to the personal side. The person affected, the mental health implications, the importance of counselling in this situation (I maybe over reacting... but I don't think I am).

This, to me, felt very much like a box ticking exercise. It wasn't about the people. Mental health wasn't being taken seriously. It was just being ticked off on the list of things to do.

I tell you this, not to moan (although... maybe a bit), it is because this started to get me going. In that moment I thought about the work I put into this blog, the podcast, the website. It suddenly felt not enough. I wanted to do more. I wanted to make more of a difference. I wanted to help improve workplaces and situations for others. I was fed up of mental health not being taken seriously.

I looked online for mental health jobs to see what was available and to try and work out what I could do. I am not a trained or qualified counsellor, teacher or nurse. So what could I do?

I found a cool sounding job relating to caring for those with mental health illnesses, only to find out it was transporting those that don't want to be transported. I found another two jobs that looked great, but both were not viable once I looked closer (locations and hours). Then, dream scenario. A role at a local mental health charity, that related to campaigns and communities. This was it!

I completed my application that week. It was a slightly strange moment as I finished the equality and diversity form at the end. I, for the first time, ticked both boxes, to say I have a learning difficulty (dyslexia) and a mental health illness (depression). It was a bit surreal. I felt that I was applying to an organisation that would actually not see my illness as a negative or a disability.

Not knowing if I would be successful I continued to look for other positions that would be interesting to me. I did find 3, though these were in education again. Something I love, but the opportunity to try something little different was appealing. This would be an opportunity to use my experiences, but also to develop them in a new setting.

I see much of the work I have previously done as supporting students to achieve, learn, develop and be empowered. To achieve their dreams. However this role, this would be an opportunity for me to do something. For me to develop, for me to show what I can do. It would also mean I could continue to support others, but those people wouldn't just be students. They would be the wider community. This was exciting.

This post isn't about the outcome, its about the process, the opportunity that comes with redundancy.

I am very disappointed that my role will no longer be something my previous workplace values. However I am proud of the work I have carried out and those I have helped and worked with.

I am very excited for the next challenge and the amazing opportunities to come.

Redundancy IS a risk, but it can also be a REWARD.

It can be an opportunity to develop into a better or closer version of the person you want to be.

Hopefully, that is what this experience allows me to do.

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