TWO years ago, overwhelming anxiety and debilitating panic attacks threatened to ruin Jennie Warren’s prospects of ever finding a job.

Now the 19-year-old from Old Town, who enrolled in social enterprise SEQOL’s Supported Employment scheme, is celebrating being the very first programme graduate to be up for a management role.

After completing a hairdressing course at Swindon College, Jennie was referred to SEQOL as her attacks left her homebound and unable to make the leap into the world of work from education.

During that time, she was given an insight into what employers look for and learnt coping strategies for different types of jobs. She also undertook work experience.

She joined the Marriott Hotel team in November 2012 as a casual employee and progressed to a permanent role as a Conference and Event Red Jacket.

She has now started the chain’s six-month In Motion training programme to enable her to take on a management role.

“When I left college I didn’t know what to do or where to go,” Jennie said.

“SEQOL Supported Employment helped me get into the world of work and gave me the opportunity and support I needed to get on. Even now the team keeps in touch and checks in on how I’m doing, so I still feel like they’re there for me.

“If it wasn’t for the programme I would still be homebound due to anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve always been determined to get on in life and not let things stop me, but after I left college I didn’t have the right resources to get where I wanted. SEQOL gave me these and the confidence that I could achieve my goals.”

The SEQOL Supported Employment team works with around 50 people each year, who might not otherwise work due to health problems, disabilities or learning difficulties, to help them enter meaningful employment either through training or a combination of training and work experience.

Lynda Ramsey, senior employment coordinator for SEQOL Supported Employment, worked with Jennie. She said: “Jennie is our first Supported Employment trainee to have a management level role within her grasp. From the beginning we could see that she had a lot of potential and a lot to offer an employer and she really engaged with the training, which has enabled her to achieve what she wanted to do.”

Adam Flint, general manager of the Swindon Marriott, added: “Jennie is an asset to our team at the Marriott and has a very bright future ahead of her. Just only recently Jennie won Associate of the Month as voted by the hotel – a great achievement – which goes to show you how well she has progressed in her role.”