Client Stories

Raise Case Study – Giano Johal – Life Balance ArtsLife Balance Arts logo4

Giano Johal was unemployed when she first met with our team and was looking for support around becoming self-employed. She had previously worked within Mental Health. Training as well as the Arts Sector. Giano was looking for something that can incorporate the sectors as well as have the flexibility to work around her home and family responsibilities.

Giano first came to SWEDA in need of support with her business ideas around delivering a range of workshops using a variety of art forms. She is an experienced arts and crafts facilitator and wanted to bring this experience into supporting individuals with mental health, health and well-being.

The aim of her arts and crafts based workshops and activity is to promote positive well-being within a safe environment and create a stress free place.

We introduced Giano to the ERDF RAISE project and explained how our team can provide support in setting up and registering her business as well as the advice and mentoring needed to grow her business and network effectively.

We worked with Giano over several weeks and found that the main barriers were marketing, Social Media and effective networking. Therefore, Giano enrolled on to our three workshops and also one to one Social Media and marketing support.

We also gave one to one support to Giano with the set up and running of Facebook page and LinkedIn profile. We also helped Giano with the design and development of her marketing materials including Business Cards and leaflets.

Giano has now successfully set up her business as ‘Life Balance Arts’. She has also successfully secured a number of contracts with a range of organisations as a result of our support and networking groups.

Welfare Case Study

Our client is a lone parent and an ex-Army veteran who was seriously injured during his service in the Falkland’s War.  Client was claiming Incapacity Benefit (now known as) ESA for eight years until he was required to attend a Mandatory Health Assessment with ATOS. After his assessment, he was declared fit -when he was clearly not. His ESA claim was cancelled and he was placed on to JSA (Job Seekers Allowance) whereby he was then booked to see an Adviser at SWEDA for a CV and ICT Course.

Our client had originally contacted our main Welfare Rights Team in Oldbury for assistance with his ESA appeal, which they filed. After Sweda’s intervention with the team in Oldbury, they kindly requested SWEDA, take on their client’s case for (Personal Independence Payment) PIP.

Over a period of seven months I worked intensively on a one to one basis (meeting the client sometimes twice a week) helping him understand the process. Throughout, the seven months, I liaised and corresponded with, DWP (Dept Work and Pensions) Decision Makers,  Job Centre Advisors, Doctors, Psychiatrists, Neurologists and the NHS team  to gather  up to date information regarding this clients health to successfully secure his PIP Claim.

We eventually succeeded and our client was awarded full fifteen points with a backdated payment. Client stated “I do not know what I would have done if it had not been for the help, advice and support of Anna Maria and the team at SWEDA. I cannot thank SWEDA, enough for what they have done for me and my family”. Meantime, our client is now awaiting a court hearing for his ESA appeal.

purdue mfa creative writing program

Anthony Timmins – Welfare Case Study

anthony timmins

Anthony was a long time unemployed gentleman referred to SWEDA for support in creating a CV. When Anthony was assessed by his Employment Officer it was identified that Anthony was illiterate, unable to read or write and had numerous health issues.

His Employment and Supporting Welfare Officers identified these problems and asked Anthony about the benefits he was receiving and why he had not applied for ESA and PIP. He stated he was on JSA. After his consultation at SWEDA, we set about applying for PIP which was unfortunately declined the first time therefore; Anthony was reassured we would appeal against the decision and meantime we would apply for a further PIP and ESA.

His supporting Welfare Officer Anna Maria Staines, represented Anthony with his ESA Health Assessment in Birmingham, and his second PIP at home and both awards were granted to the client. In September, notification was given that the previous PIP appeal was to be heard in the Birmingham courts, and Anna Maria represented Anthony again for the court hearing and to the delight of our client, the backdated payment was awarded.

Anthony was so grateful for the support he stated, “I do not know what I would have done if it had not been for the help and support of Anna Maria, my Supporting Welfare Officer, SWEDA, and the SWEDA team who are part of the Sandwell Advice Providers Network”. He also added. “It is only at this point in our lives and when we are older, are suffering with ill health that you actually sit back and go over your life and this is when I truly regret not attending school, and not having a voice to be heard. Times were hard and we could not afford the day to day things that so many people have today and against my mother’s wishes, my father insisted my brother and I go to his factory and work as industrial painters/strippers in order for our family to survive. In doing so, I am now unable to read and write, and have health issues that will only get worse over time so the awards my Welfare Officer, Anna Maria, has fought to gain for me has changed my life and I will be forever grateful”.

Anthony also wanted to add “if anyone is seeking advice and guidance for  whatever reason it may be and don’t know where to turn then just contact the wonderful hardworking team of SWEDA for it is never too late to gain valuable advice and guidance”.

Thank you so much



IT Client/Volunteer

Mr RL came to SWEDA at age of 18 following bereavement. Mr RL was unemployed and suffering with low confidence due to bereavement.

Mr RL was unemployed and also had Welfare/Benefits issues as well as needing to build confidence back up.

Mr RL wanted to update IT skills – (Microsoft Office package) and also wanted to start looking at employment opportunities or apprenticeships.

Employment Advisor resolved welfare issues resulting in ESA being paid to Mr RL.

Mr RL started IT training and was initially very quiet despite completing all IT tasks with ease.

He started engaging with clients and his confidence started to build we also supported him with Job search training.

Mr RL became a volunteer with SWEDA following a few weeks of becoming more confident and communicating with the SWEDA team working in the IT suite – working well with clients and gaining confidence and skills very quickly.

Mr RL completed all accredited Microsoft Office training.

Mr RL is now working as an office junior and is progressing well. He regularly keeps in contact with SWEDA staff and always expresses how grateful he is for our support.

Paul Banner (Paul’s Cook Shop)

Paul Banner first came to SWEDA in early 2014 seeking some advice about purchasing an existing business. Having received advice and guidance he decided against that however Paul remained in contact with SWEDA and when he told us about his latest idea we were delighted to get involved.

In November, Paul launched his new business in Netherton, Dudley and we couldn’t be happier for him. Paul talks about his journey in this video and the team at SWEDA would like to wish him the very best of success in the future.


Suraya Oliver (Ultra triathlete, Motivational Speaker & Author)

Suraya came to SWEDA looking to build her professional profile and we were delighted to help. See the interview below where she talks to Andy Salmon about the world of competing in Ultra triathlons at elite level.


Angela Turner

Angela Turner came to SWEDA wanting to change her career. She was quite nervous about taking the next steps forward however after sending her CV to be reviewed by an adviser, she quickly set about improving her IT skills. Shortly thereafter Angela commenced work on a voluntary basis with SWEDA, complementing her new found skills with a practical foundation and after receiving further support was successful in securing a new role within a large company.

Well done Angela!


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