Employment Journey: disabilities don’t define you

Recently we met Emma and began to hear about her employment journey. In a few weeks’ time Emma will start her new job at Active Prospects. Like many people up and down the country, Emma’s return to work signals a possible end to the pandemic the country has been experiencing.

As we continue to learn about Emma and her employment journey so far, we asked Emma to tell us more about who she is. About the different jobs she has had, the skills she has developed, and what skills she hopes to develop when she becomes the receptionist for Active Prospects.

Tell us more about you. How would you describe yourself?

“I would describe myself as caring, generous, enthusiastic and funny. I’m patient with people but not technology, adventurous with food but not heights, and take work really seriously because I want to be successful!”

Tell us about your learning disabilities and why you don’t let them define you?

“I was diagnosed with mild Autism when I was young and have a speech impediment or as I call it ‘a really annoying stutter!’ Also I think the word ‘impediment’ is a really stupid word for someone to say who has a speech impediment. I also have Global Developmental Delay which means learning new things is difficult. My brain has to work a lot harder than everyone else!”

Tell us about the first job you had?

“My first job was when I was 10 years old. It was helping my brother do his paper round. I enjoyed putting the papers together and helping my brother to deliver them.

I really enjoyed this job because I was the Toy tester. It was my responsibility to check the toys, to make sure they worked and were safe. If they needed new batteries, I would replace them. The last toy I remember testing was a Jack-in-the-Box!”.

When asked what transferable skills these jobs had helped Emma to develop, Emma explained that “the paper round helped develop my time keeping and being organised skills and the volunteering job helped me develop skills like responsibility, following instructions, and asking for help when I needed it”.

Tell us about your favourite job, why was it your favourite?

“My favourite job was the Hub in Redhill. I enjoyed this job because it involved answering the phone, helping people, giving advice, taking payments and this helped me build my confidence. Also I was asked to train another person which I enjoyed! And even managed the Hub when my boss went to lunch! I really enjoyed having more responsibility and being trusted.”

If you could do any job in the world, what would it be? How could being a receptionist for Active Prospects help you get your ideal job?

Emma explained her dream job would be “helping other people like me. I would like to give information and support to young children and families that have a newly diagnosed member with Autism and other disabilities”. Emma is a strong believer that the doctor’s diagnosis isn’t always accurate as she has achieved far more than was expected of her. Emma said, “I would like to reassure parents that when their child receives a diagnosis, it’s not all doom and gloom!” When asked how would she help children who have been diagnosed as having a learning disability, Emma said “I would give children encouragement, and tell them you can do anything if you put your mind to it.”

When asked how working as a receptionist at Active Prospects can help Emma to develop skills that will help her work towards securing her ideal job, Emma explained that “working as a receptionist at Active Prospects will help me develop my skills in Excel, PowerPoint and Word. These are important skills for any job that involves administration. Working at Active Prospects will also help me to improve my confidence in talking to other people. When I have confidence and feel relaxed my speech comes out a lot clearer and I don’t have such a pronounced stutter. When I have developed my skills as a receptionist with Active Prospects, I can use these skills to get a job as a receptionist at a hospital”.

If you could speak to employers about employing people with learning disabilities, what would you say to them?

“If you give someone with disabilities a chance, they may be the best employee you have ever had! “

List your top 5 ‘transferable skills’ that everyone should try to develop and why they are important?
1. Communication – so that you can speak clearly and know that you are being understood. Being able to sign helps to communicate with more people.
2. Time keeping – if I have certain time to start, I like to be 10mins early to get a coffee and to get ready for the day.
3. Be organised and reliable – because you don’t want to keep your team waiting!!
4. Try to be caring and friendly – because you might not always get on with the people you work with!
5. Try to persevere – If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.

Active Prospects offers paid employment or supported volunteering opportunities for people with learning disabilities, Autism, or mental health needs, across our head office and charity boutique ReWorkIt. We also run the Aspiring Prospects employability and skills programme for young people aged 17-24. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch info@activeprospects.org.uk

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