Thomas Conlon was born in Ireland his father was from Belfast and his mother from Sunderland and moved to London with his parents in 1971, they were squatters who moved around London weekly which Thomas loved. The family eventually returned to Sunderland when Thomas was 11 years old. At age 23 Thomas started moving around the country and ended up homeless in London. A family eventually took Thomas in and gave him a job and a small bedsit to help him get on with his life. Thomas eventually returned to Sunderland and settled down. A relative came to visit told him about an access to art course at a local college, he felt unable to sign up to the course whilst fearing he was ill. Later that week a knock on the door from a health professional from the Doctor’s surgery informed Thomas that he had salmonella!! This gave Thomas the impetus to enrol on the course but he continued to lack the confidence to pursue a career in fine art. Four years ago his mum was dying and Thomas promised her that he would go to University to study Art. Thomas graduated 3 years ago with a 2:1 in Fine Art specialising in oil painting. Still not confident in his abilities or talent Thomas concentrated on raising David and Tommy and painting in his spare time for family and friends until a trip to the Jobcentre started a catalogue of events, which lead to Thomas starting to believe in himself. In June 2014 an advisor at the Jobcentre told Thomas that he must find some type of work and suggested factory work, they told him that it was not worth mentioning his Art Degree as he wouldn’t get a job out of it.
Not having the skills, childcare or experience Thomas was overwhelmed by his situation.
Thomas was referred to Pallion Action Group (PAG) to attend a community based
job club to seek support to move into employment. Thomas came to job club in a
very low state of mind and could not see a positive future for himself or his family.
Staff at PAG helped Thomas to do his required job searches but also took the time
to listen to what Thomas wanted to do for a career, PAG staff advised, signposted,
instilled confidence, a sense of belief and self- worth. Thomas also benefited from
the social aspect of the community job club making friends and finding people who
helped him practically and emotionally with peer to peer support.