How I beat the odds to get a job : I left school in... - Mencap

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How I beat the odds to get a job

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I left school in the late 1980s. I thought it was important to get qualifications, so I went to college where I got an NVQ Level 1 in Business Studies.

With my mum’s help I started looking for employment when I left college. I felt it was important to apply for jobs that I wanted to go for. My mum went with me to see a careers officer who put me forward for a place on an employment scheme, called Hackney Youth Workforce. I don’t remember having to fill in any forms or do an interview, I just went along and met the staff and the trainees.

On the scheme I found that some of the trainees were not friendly to me and I felt like they discriminated against me. I kept myself busy looking for jobs in the newspapers – there was no internet then so you couldn’t search online.

The scheme lasted 2 years. It taught be how to be part of a workforce. I learnt administrative duties like filing, inputting data and taking calls.

When the scheme had finished, I started to apply for lots of different jobs. I found this quite stressful, particularly filling in the long application forms and attending interviews, as often these were not accessible for people with a learning disability. For example, some interviewers did not phrase their questions using accessible language and did not allow me enough time to my give my answers properly.

Things improved when I moved into a supported living facility. Here I was given the support I needed with applying for jobs. This led to me getting my first job as a Distribution Assistant at CCESTW (Central Council for the Education and Training of Social Workers). I was really pleased when I got this job and was proud of my achievement. My mum was also very happy and glad that I had found the right job. I was grateful for the help from my support worker.

This all happened when I moved out of home and into supported living. I also had to have help applying for benefits as I my job was part-time so wasn’t enough money.

My support worker helped me and found out that I could apply for Working Persons Tax Credit and Housing Benefit because of the hours I was working.

I still have some support nowadays with my benefits. I am finding the changes to benefits very confusing and I’m glad I’ve got the help of my support worker to explain what I can and can’t do. I want to be able to continue to work part-time as I love my job, but I need to make sure I am still able to claim my benefits.

I now work part-time at the head office of Royal Mencap Society as the Digital Assistant. As part of my job, I write blogs, help with the online community and support the Communications Team. I originally got the job here through Mencap’s Pathway, where I was a London Division Assistant. A job coach suggested that I should put myself forward for the Digital Assistant role. Instead of an interview they allowed me to do work experience, and after a few weeks they formally offered me the job. This made all the difference in the world as I find interviews really hard, so to be able to show people what I can do, on the job, was so much better. I wish more employers did things like this. It would help so many people with a learning disability get into jobs.

I have been at Mencap for 23 years now and I love working for an organization that aims to empower people with a learning disability to be as independent as possible.

It’s important that people with a learning disability are employed, as well as people without, and that they do not face barriers to work. Offering support to do application forms and interviews, as well as benefits advice can all help with this. Apprenticeships and work experience opportunities are also valuable routes into employment as they allow people to get experience in a role and receive training before going for a permanent position. This allows people to experience the workplace and gradually introduces them to the responsibilities of work.

If you need advice about employment, I am not sure what I did 26 years ago will apply these days, but I hope that me telling you will help, I suggest you look on the Mencap website, and if you need to talk to someone to get help, contact the Learning Disability Helpline.

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Thank you for sharing your story with us Sally426 . It is so interesting to hear . You should be very proud of your achievements!

Anyone who is interested in work and learning disability should check out our 'expert event' next week (starting on Monday 25 November). Paul Winter will be here to answer questions about work and employment. Paul works for Mencap and is an Employer Relationship Manager in our Lifestyles & Work team.

Many thanks



Thank you Sarah😊


Great read thanks for sharing :)


Thank you paul😊


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