“It was very hard going back to working for the same firm I had my stroke in, in 2003. Having a good supervisor that didn’t care how long it took for me to learn was essential. She was always available when I needed her, and was key to me becoming an accepted member of the team.
I went from being a relatively high earning ops analyst pre stroke, not afraid to take a risk of two and having what I thought was a really fun sense of humour, to a guy that had little or no conversation because of a bad stutter, a one track mind meaning I could only think of one thing at a time, being insecure and beating myself up if I made a mistake in my new job. Re-hab really did me a power of good in the early days, overcoming my frustration with anger management.
I’m personally responsible for running the post room now, sorting and distributing approx. 1 to 1.5 sacks of post a day to 22 departments, 4 times a day (collect & deliver). I order supplies for the postroom as well as being responsible for all archiving that comes in daily.
I can only remember one thing at a time these days, my short term memory is terrible and I am sometimes distracted from the task in hand. Consequently I am often quite mentally exhausted at the end of the day depending on the day I’m having, and what mood I wake up in as well. I find driving home makes me a lot calmer.
Since going back to work I can’t believe that in certain areas how much more confidence it gives me knowing that if I understand the logic of the problem or life in general, it makes remembering a lot easier. Also I’m an important part of the team and that means the world to me and is a huge boost to my self esteem. Plus if I write things down on a whiteboard, diary, post-it notes, email calendar, calendar etc, I rarely forget.”
(Well Known Chartered Accountancy Firm)
“I suffered a very severe head injury in 2000 following a road traffic accident. Prior to this, I was a software engineer in a small startup company.
After various non-commercial voluntary positions, I began working (still on a voluntary basis) in the Gift List department of John Lewis in early 2006. I moved from there to the Call Centre, which I found far more engaging, as it involved much more direct interaction with customers.
Shortly after the move, I began working here on a non-voluntary basis, though I still only worked for 6-8 hours per week, as I suffer from chronic fatigue.
Initially, I didn’t actually make or take calls; I simply collected stock from the shop floor and returned them to the department to be processed by the call handlers. Gradually, however, I became confident enough to call customers regarding orders they had previously placed, and process them myself. And eventually, after almost 2 years of being there, I progressed to actually becoming a call handler and accepting incoming calls.
During this time I developed a number of strategies to compensate for my poor memory and inability to multi-task reliably.
I was very pleased that John Lewis were patient enough to understand my difficulties/lack of confidence, and give me much more time than usual to “get up to speed”. And despite my limited hours, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, formed good relationships with many staff across the store and was a recognised member the team.
I have since moved on to a more suitable vocation, given my background (maintaining this website, actually!), but am still in touch with several staff members at John Lewis.”
(former) Call Centre Call Handler
John Lewis Partnership
“My name is Sarah. I have a learning disability and for the past few years I have been working with a Supported Employment Agency run through Bucks County Council called Back2Base. After I was referred to them by my care manager. I started to meet regularly with one of their Supported Employment Officers. We spent the first few weeks writing up what they call a Vocational Profile. It’s all about your work skills, interests and goals. From there we went on to job searching together.
Since being with Back2Base I have done some paid filing work at the Council’s Team for Older Peoples Offices and a work placement at Waterstones Bookstore.
After they finished my Supported Employment Officer talked with me about the County Council’s ‘Food for Thought’ training scheme for people with disabilities. You work in the Watergarden staff cafe which is based in County Hall in Aylesbury. I have been at Food for Thought for about a year now and it has given me much more skills and confidence. I have learnt about customer service, food preparation and general cafe work. Trainees have just been offered an ASDAN course in food handling which I have also signed up for. I like it there because it feels like real work and has trained support staff to help you develop.
Over the last few months I have been working on a placement for 3 hours a weeks as a food handling assistant at a local pub and restaurant, which my Supported Employment Officer set up and I am pleased to say I have just been offered a paid job there.
Because I live in supported accommodation I get different benefits to help with my rent and bills, like council tax. It was very important that I did not lose these or become worse off. Before agreeing to the placement I sat down with my Supported Employment Officer and together we did all the calculations. Because I am working with Back2Base I am allowed to do some paid work (under 16 hours), keep a lot of my benefits and still be better off.
To know I have a paid job, that I am working with a friendly team and have the opportunity to develop is a great feeling. It is also great to know that Back2base have said they will still be supporting me too.”
For more info on how to access support from Back2Base you can look now under the Contacts section.
Food Handling Assistant
“My name is Andy and I suffer from hemiplegia, which is a weakness I experience down the left side of my body, which affects my movement. My employer John Lewis has been exceptionally helpful in understanding my needs as an individual. They have allowed me to experience a wide variety of roles (most, if not all, involving direct customer interaction) both within Waitrose and John Lewis Milton Keynes. In addition they have supported me with specialist equipment and assessments in order to help me in my role.”
John Lewis Partnership