VIDEO: Disabled staff can add drive to a motivated team

It took five years but Jonathan Mawer never gave up – his ambition was too strong.

The #DisabilityWorks campaign aims to show the benefits of employing disabled talent, for tailored recruitment support:Click this link Or call 0114 2760039.

(l-r) Ethan Barton, Danielle Wibberley, Jonathan Mawer and Sam Smith. Picture: Andrew Roe

(l-r) Ethan Barton, Danielle Wibberley, Jonathan Mawer and Sam Smith. Picture: Andrew Roe

The 23-year-old applied for a string of jobs without success but although it knocked his confidence he just kept on going.

For Jonathan, who has diabetes and mild learning disabilities, wanted to support his wife and three-year-old son.

He said: “I’m keen to work to give my son a good life and give him options and good family memories.”

Jonathan had experience working in a supermarket and shops and volunteering for the British Heart Foundation. He has qualifications including ICT entry level maths and English at Hillsborough College. He also has GCSEs in science, English and maths.

In summer he was put in touch with the Burton Street Foundation in Hillsborough – a centre which works with people with physical and learning disabilities – and they introduced him to their tailored work programme, Enterprise 100.

The 20-week scheme includes coaching sessions to build confidence and develop new skills and help with self-esteem, CVs and interviews.

It also arranged work experience in the Burton Street Café, where he found his niche volunteering twice a week.

Jonathan said: “I enjoy it when it’s busy. There was a person came in on work experience and I trained him up.

Jonathan Mawer with Megan Thorne of Burton Street Foundation. Picture: Andrew Roe

Jonathan Mawer with Megan Thorne of Burton Street Foundation. Picture: Andrew Roe

“But I was always working towards permanent paid work. When I started at Burton Street last year I just wouldn’t talk to anyone because I didn’t have the confidence, but coming here really brought me out of my shell.”

The foundation spotted a catering assistant vacancy at the Northern General Hospital and encouraged Jonathan to attend.

He was invited to interview, which he attended with Megan Thorne from Burton Street, and the hospital offered him a job!

Jonathan said: “It’s my first paid job since I was 18, it’s been a five-year journey and I’m over the moon.

Sam Smith with Danielle Wibberley. Picture: Andrew Roe

Sam Smith with Danielle Wibberley. Picture: Andrew Roe

“Disabled people simply want the same chances as every other member of society.”

But Burton Street’s involvement didn’t stop once he started in the kitchens. It is providing on-going support to ensure he’s happy and productive.

Danielle Wibberley, senior manager at the Burton Street Foundation, said: “Jonathan had so much experience, we were just trying to find his niche. The NHS has given him a chance. They purely see him for who he is and I absolutely applaud them for that.

“We find the jobs that fit the skills, it has to be the job around the person, not the person around the job, otherwise it’s never going to work.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to work with Jonathan as his self-confidence grew.

“We were overjoyed when we found out that he had got the job. Particularly when he told us that he can provide for his family and especially his son.

Ethan Barton. Picture: Andrew Roe

Ethan Barton. Picture: Andrew Roe

“Hiring disabled people can mean adding highly motivated people to the workforce, leading to improvements like increased productivity and an inclusive culture.”

Some two per cent of the adult population is thought to have a learning disability – 1.2m people

For adults with learning disabilities in work, Sheffield ranks 128th out of 147 local authority areas, with 3.4 per cent, compared to seven per cent nationally.

The #DisabilityWorks campaign aims to show the benefits of employing disabled talent, for tailored recruitment support: Click this link Or call 0114 2760039.

SAM AND ETHAN GAIN SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

Leadership and organisational skills – as a scout leader Sam Smith has in them in spades.

The 21-year-old has worked his way up from youth leader to occasional group leader of the Explorer Scouts, aged 16-18, in Grenoside.

He also regularly volunteers at the Burton Street Foundation’s restaurant and cafe and is studying for a Level 2 in catering at college.

He said: “I’m responsible for large amounts of scouts, organising and planning trips, and helping out on them. I’m basic first aid-trained and have dealt with and remained calm in emergency situations.

“In scouts we do different activities such as mountain biking and different trips. I enjoy helping people and learning new skills. I work in the restaurant in evenings and at conferences, functions and parties.

“I enjoy prepping and serving high-quality food to a professional standard. I’ve gone back to college and I keep applying for jobs. I’m focused, determined and proud in my work.”

Ethan Barton, aged 20, of Shiregreen also volunteers at Burton Street and works at the English Institute of Sport on a Wednesday, setting up equipment for schools.

The opportunity was thanks to an arrangement between Burton Street and venue owners, Sheffield International Venues.

Danielle Wibberley, senior manager at Burton Street Foundation, said: “Recruitment procedures often inadvertently create barriers for people with learning disabilities.

“Many of the minor adjustments that will help candidates with learning disabilities apply for jobs may also benefit other candidates and enhance overall efficiency in recruitment.

“Working with someone with a learning disability can be an enriching experience for managers and colleagues a like.

“Much of what is required is good practice for managing any individual but is much more important for people with learning disabilities.

“Make sure instructions are concise and specific. Give the person clear instructions about exactly how to carry out each task, from start to finish as this will lay the foundations for good working practices.

“Don’t assume the person will infer your meaning from informal instructions.

“It can be helpful to ask the person to repeat back instructions so you are sure they have understood.

“Make it clear any adaptations for them in the workplace are there to help them keep doing their job well, not because they are not good enough.”

Burton Street Foundation is in the former Langsett Road School, built in 1879.

It closed in 1976 and the building was put to various uses before falling empty in 1992.

Three years later the community stepped in to save the site and by 1998 it was home to its first disability service.

By 2001 it was working with adults and children with learning disabilities and in 2004 bought the building from Sheffield City Council.

Today, more than 2,000 people use it each week.

The #DisabilityWorks campaign aims to show the benefits of employing disabled talent, for tailored recruitment support: Click this link Or call 0114 2760039.

LOOK BEYOND THE LABEL

The label of learning disability shouldn’t cloud the fact that many people with a learning disability have a variety of skills that can be an asset in the workplace.

That’s the view of Danielle Wibberley, senior manager at the Burton Street Foundation.

She added: “The range of jobs for someone with a learning disability is endless.

“Roles should be carefully matched to the individual with the particular skillset and taking into account any support needs they may have.

“People with learning disabilities have a great deal to offer the world of business and may have unique skills and abilities that will help an organisation thrive.

“Research shows some people with a learning disability may be on the autistic spectrum which means that as well as their individual strengths and talents, some candidates may demonstrate above-average skills in some areas.

“To an adult with a learning disability who wants to work, the benefits are massive and wide-ranging. They feel needed and important and valued in society.”

Burton Street Foundation has designed a project called Enterprise 100.

It aims to get 100 adults with learning disabilities in Sheffield into employment within three years.

Clare Mappin, managing director at Burton Street, said: “Adults with learning disabilities have much to offer employers, a large number of them want to work, and have talents waiting to be uncovered.

“Some may need small adjustments and guidance.”

The #DisabilityWorks campaign aims to show the benefits of employing disabled talent, for tailored recruitment support: Click this link Or call 0114 2760039.

Danielle Wibberley. Picture: Andrew Roe

Danielle Wibberley. Picture: Andrew Roe