17th Jun 2019
“They are all lovely,” Josh explained. “Good team work. Bunch of lads, [we] have fun and banter.”
Josh, who is 20 and has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), joined the Oxfordshire Supported Internship programme in September 2018. The supported internship programme is a partnership between Mencap, Oxfordshire Employment (part of Oxfordshire County Council), Activate Learning and Abingdon & Witney College.
With the help of Georgina Edwards, his programme coordinator, he was able to find work with a local company, Adrian White Building Supplies, who have a bagging plant near to where he lives.
“I’ve learned team work.” Josh explained. “I can plan ahead. I’m keeping up. And I’m improving on the forklift.”
“His biggest thing was that he wanted to be a game keeper,” said Georgina, “and he had a placement set up at a game farm through his grandparents. That was his goal. I went to the game farm and picked up from the visit that he likes being outdoors and being in a male environment. It made him feel safe. That’s really important for him.”
Unfortunately for Josh, his game keeper position fell through.
Georgina continued: “So what I had to do was find a job-match that would then be suitable to meet his needs, which was definitely outdoors. Working in a retail customer-facing environment would never work.
I went up and visited [Adrian White Building Supplies] on my own to see if it would suitable for him. It was very much process and repetitive work and, because of who he is, process and repetition work very well for him. It was all outdoors, and there was a chance to learn to drive the forklift.”
“I was nervous and a bit worried I was going to mess it up.” Josh remembers. “I’m putting bags on a hopper and then filling them up, keeping the area clean, keeping count of production, and forklift occasionally.”
“Mencap have given Josh and us the opportunity to work together. Due to the close supervision by Georgina, Josh has exceeded all expectations.,” Gav, manager at Adrian White, explained. “His speed has surprised me!”
His advice to other employers?
“Don’t be afraid of hiring employees with a learning disability, because they can often outshine others.”
“Gav helped me with training in the beginning.” Josh remembers. “If I was struggling, if I don’t know what to do, Gav can help me.
I was hoping that I would get a job out of it, and I have now.” Josh continued. “This is a step forward for me to have a paid job and earn my own money. Having a job changes life for the better. It makes you feel like a grown man. It’s something to keep.”
“The supported internship provides life changing opportunities for people.” Georgina explained. “It changes them in so many ways. It’s not just the job itself. Josh’s confidence has grown. His whole demeanor, the way he carries himself, and the way he talks. Now we can talk, have a laugh, and a joke, which is a huge difference.”