Susanna Bannister, Connect with Work graduate


“I wouldn’t want to change my job for the world”

27 November 2019

A medical condition left graduate Susanna Bannister struggling to find work – but a Barclays employment programme helped her find her dream job. We hear how Connect with Work uses the bank’s unique networks and relationships to connect people to businesses that are recruiting, creating a supported pathway into work.

Two days after leaving university, having studied health and social care, Susanna Bannister became ill. Despite having a degree and experience, Susanna found, “it was very hard for people to get their heads round employing someone who had health issues like mine”.

Susanna looked for work online, went door-to-door taking her CV to shops, and joined healthcare and secretarial employment agencies. “I did everything I could to find work,” she says. But her route to full-time employment came through Barclays’ Connect with Work programme, which trains and connects people facing barriers to work with businesses, including Barclays’ clients and suppliers, that have roles to fill.

Susanna’s successful application led to her becoming one of seven trainees to join a three-week course earlier this year at a London care home run by Barclays’ client Bupa, going on to get a full-time role as an Activities Coordinator – a job she says she “adores” because it gives dignity, care and compassion to residents.

Susanna Bannister, Connect with Work

Barclays’ Connect with Work graduate Susanna Bannister at work

Building confidence

Globally, Connect with Work has supported thousands of people into work, helping participants move from challenging circumstances into rewarding careers – while helping clients and businesses to unearth new talent. Barclays’ Citizenship and Sustainability commitments include a pledge to place 250,000 people into work through Connect with Work by 2022.

Tim Helliwell, a Director in the International Corporate Bank at Barclays, who works with large UK corporates in the consumer, healthcare, hospitality and leisure sectors, says the programme has been “fantastic”. “The people that we work with have often lost their connection to the workplace, and that can be down to anything from a lack of qualifications to some form of disability or lack of confidence,” he says.

“These people need support and they need a lift and that's what we can do – we can help them get the confidence and put them in contact with potential employers. In many cases our clients and suppliers are crying out for new members of staff and are struggling to find people with the right skills. So, what we do is provide the opportunity for both groups to connect.”

Knowing that retention and recruitment is a big issue within social care, Barclays approached its client Bupa with the idea that Connect with Work could help with resourcing in the company’s care homes. “We got a great response,” says Tim, “and from that we went straight through to arranging the programme, organising taster days for potential candidates, work experience opportunities for those that were successful and ultimately job interviews for roles at Bupa’s West London care home The Kensington.”

Dream job

The programme was tailored to give participants skills that would be in demand in the sector, and included employability training delivered by Barclays employees. “There were workshops on interviews and CVs, where we all got so much knowledge,” says Susanna.

“When I asked other people on the course – some of whom had mental health issues – they told me the training had made them much more confident,” she adds. “For me, the major issue was that although I could boost my CV, I needed advice on when to mention that I got ill? At CV stage? At interview stage? There were other things – my CV was two pages because my font was too big, and I was telling my whole life story.”

Susanna Bannister, Connect with Work

Susanna Bannister says “I adore my job and would not want to change it for the world”

Susanna was successful in securing a role at Bupa’s The Kensington Care Home, where she has now been working for four months and couldn’t be happier. “The most satisfying part of my working life is the fulfilment that comes from doing my best every day and getting things done,” she says. “That sends me home with a smile on my face. I adore my job and would not want to change it for the world.”

Davina Barton, who works as Head of Technical and Clinical Learning for Bupa Care Services, says that involvement in the scheme gives Bupa “a wider reach to people that wouldn’t necessarily think about joining us as a career choice”. Four of the seven participants in the Connect with Work programme with Bupa were offered permanent employment with the care provider, and Davina thinks “it benefits the business as well as the individuals that get given the opportunity”.

This has been true for Susanna. What advice would she give to somebody who finds themselves in the position she was in before Connect with Work? “Never give up! Some days are harder than others, but that doesn’t mean you give up. Do what you can today, and it’ll be better tomorrow.”

Connect with Work 

Connect with Work provides people from often overlooked communities with vital work skills and connects them to businesses that are recruiting.