Four people with disabilities have been able to put unemployment behind them after going to work at Tesco in Bury St Edmunds.
They were supported by Remploy, the organisation which provides specialist employment services for disabled and disadvantaged people.
Christopher Brett, 59, Ricardo Jackson, 22, Alastair Milbank, 26, and forty-four-year-old Michael Russell, are all now working at the St Saviour’s store.
Describing unemployment as an ‘unbelievably traumatic experience’, Christopher, from Bury St Edmunds, recalled how he felt when he was made redundant from his previous job as a kitchen assistant in a care home. “My world collapsed. Work was my life. Before I moved to Suffolk I had been a school bursar in Cornwall, responsible for 20 primary schools. Not having a job was the opposite end of the scale!”
He says the stress of being out of work led to a decline in his health. “I already had a hearing impairment but I developed a heart condition and was diagnosed with diabetes. It was a dreadful period.”
Christopher, Ricardo, Alastair and Michael were all referred by Jobcentre Plus to Remploy, where they received tailored one-to-one support with their job searching, including help creating a new CV and advice on interview techniques. When vacancies arose at Tesco, they were selected for a work trial and eventually all offered jobs.
“I’m really enjoying the job,” said Christopher. “I like meeting customers and I never forget I am an ambassador for Tesco. A smile goes a long way.”
Ricardo, also from Bury, has dyslexia. He struggled to find work after leaving college but is now enjoying his first job. “It’s great working here,” he said. “I hated not having a job, particularly as all my friends were working. But it did give me a chance to complete a Prince’s Trust course, which developed my people skills and showed me the importance of working as a team, which is what I do here.”
Alastair, from Great Henny near Sudbury and Michael who lives in Newmarket, are also enjoying the benefits that come with having a job.
Siobhan Staniland, Tesco’s HR manager at the Bury store added: “The partnership with Remploy is very important to Tesco. I know that Remploy candidates will always be well prepared and enthusiastic. It doesn’t matter if a person is disabled. It’s their ability that is important.”