Jacob was referred to Ladder by Maxx Employment, as he was struggling to break into the workforce locally due to managing his anxiety and relocating back to the Latrobe Valley from interstate.

When Jacob commenced with Step Up Latrobe Valley he was quiet, socially withdrawn and hesitant to interact with fellow participants but he also showed program staff another side of him with his lovely demeanor and desire to work in disability support services.

Participating in the six week program, Jacob enjoyed every aspect of it, maintaining 100 per cent attendance and displaying a commitment to grab every opportunity and experience presented to him.

Throughout the program, the improvement in Jacob’s self-confidence was obvious as he developed new friendships, found his voice and began contributing to the group. He shared with Ladder staff that he now feels much more comfortable dealing with and meeting new people and putting himself into situations he previously would have avoided.

During the program Jacob also completed a week-long bike ride from Melbourne to Adelaide raising money for mental health awareness; a true example of this young man’s values. He’s passion for the disability support industry and mental health services didn’t go unnoticed as he was invited to complete a Mental Health First Aid course with Ladder staff.

At the completion of the program, Jacob’s dedication to improving himself and securing a job was evident. He devoted himself to his pursuit of employment and further education. Each time Ladder was in communication with Jacob he had either applied for more jobs or explored another training option for 2020.

Jacob was also accepted into the Step Up Alumni program where he was matched with a community mentor to support him, help him navigate life’s challenges and celebrate his successes. It was on an alumni excursion that Jacob was notified of his success in finding full time employment and proved to be a wonderful moment to share as his peers celebrated his success as if it were their own.

Jacob later confided in the staff that he felt like crying as everything was just falling into place in his life as he continues to work toward his dream of being a Disability Support Worker. He is in the process of enrolling into TAFE and after completing work experience with Thyme Out in Moe  will interview for a disability support role in the new year.

It has been truly inspiring to watch Jacob grow from a reserved, isolated young man to a thriving individual who is engaging in both employment and education opportunities.