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Ready Devon

Meet Ashley—Motivated to succeed, supported to make it happen.

For some people with disabilities, the biggest worry isn’t that they won’t be able to get a job, it’s that they won’t be able to keep it.

That's why having the support of a job coach, through Access to Work, can be so important. It can make a huge difference to both the employee in question and the team around them. Take Ashley for instance, who found himself joining the team at the Pig at Coombe when they opened in 2016.

  • Ashley at work
  • Fiona and Ashley stood outside smiling at the camera
  • Ashley and Fiona at work

Taking the first step

Ashley’s journey into employment started at Petroc College, where he took the Project Life Employability Course. The course focused on getting real work experience and the skills you need to get a job. He quickly learned that he loved working in the kitchen and this set him on his current path. After completing over 300 hours of work experience in one year on a Supported Internship programme, Ashley applied for a kitchen porter role independently.

Initially, when Ashley joined the Pig at Coombe, no-one knew about his learning disabilities. He went through the interview process on his own and got the job based on his experience. But it soon became clear that full-time was quite a challenge for him, it was stressful and he was getting very tired. That’s when his manager, Fiona, started to realise he needed more support. She got in touch with Access to Work and they brought in a job coach. Ashley and Fiona agreed that part-time would be a better option for him and they started to work on training for the team and other ways they could support Ashley.

“Having a job coach is a massive thing for me. It helps me to be able to do my job and they give me a lot of support. I didn’t always understand what I was being asked to do at the start, so my job coach helped me with that. I also used to get quite angry easily and to shout a bit. My job coach helped me to understand that you can’t do that in the workplace.”

Planning for the future

Two years on and Ashley is now the only kitchen porter still remaining from the original team. He’s very committed to his role and the team know they can depend on him. He always makes sure he’s always able to get to work and he’s a very motivational person – both in himself and through helping to motivate others. He’s also ambitious about his future. He has aspirations to be a chef one day and he’s working with Fiona to plan what his next step will be. For now though, he’s quite content in his current role as a kitchen porter and he’s proud, knowing that he’s managed to keep his job for the length of time he has.

What Ashley wishes the most is for employers to learn more about what having a disability really means.

“With the word disability, I think a lot of people think of physical disabilities, but it’s also about people whose brains work differently. There’s a lot more to understanding what that means and what it involves at work.”

This kind of understanding comes with being open to learning about disabilities, and like the team at the Pig at Coombe, being open to adapting to the kind of challenges they bring with them. Thanks to the job coach provided by Access to Work, Ashley has the kind of support he needs to not only retain his role at the hotel, but to be able to think about his future.

Understanding disability

Interested in learning more about employing people with mental health conditions, learning disabilities and autism? Ask to be contacted by a Jobcentre Plus Local Employment Advisor to speak to someone in person.