Paul is 29 years old and lives with his parents in Chester. He has severe learning disabilities that affect his speech, information processing, motor skills and mobility. Paul had undertaken some limited voluntary work with support in the past and dearly wanted opportunity to move into paid employment.
In 2008 we started working with Paul and he undertook an 8 week placement at the Iceland store in Chester. He worked really hard, focussing on the job in hand. He needed the support of his Job Coach throughout but succeeded in working to a reasonable standard. The placement ended and unfortunately, due to the level of support needed, the employer was unable to offer paid work to Paul.
Despite this setback we began to work again with Paul in July 09 as part of the Learning Together Cheshire and Warrington funded project to further his development. We approached SCA Packaging in Ellesmere Port on Paul’s behalf. The management at the factory were enthusiastic about a placement, despite having never worked with people with learning disabilities before. Paul went on placement with his Job Coach 1 day a week from 11th September until 18th December. During his time there the workforce really took to him and helped and supported him with his tasks up to the point where he no longer needed his Job Coach. For the first time ever Paul had become one of the team.
Business was quiet at SCA and we had to end his placement in the December. However Paul returned to the company in May 2010 to resume his work placement. His confidence soared and there were major steps forward in his independence and overall happiness – clear improvements in his mental health. Towards the end of his placement we spoke to the management about the possibility of paid work for Paul and to everyone’s delight they offered him 5 hours a week on Fridays. Paul is still there to this day, his confidence continues to grow, he can now undertake a wide range of tasks unsupervised and he has great fun doing so.
The staff at SCA love having Paul around, he brings real diversity, character and enthusiasm to the workplace and as a result the whole environment is the richer for it. It was originally envisaged that Paul would need the support of his Job Coach on a permanent basis, but through hard work on his part and the support of an enthusiastic employer the future looks bright for Paul.