Micheal is a young man who, having recently completed his Catering & Hospitality Level 1 on the Training for Success programme, has now secured paid employment as a Catering Assistant with Mount Charles Catering, Portadown with support and guidance from our Education & Training, Job Match and Workable NI teams.
Micheal has Autism, MLD and anxiety and was first introduced to the Disability Action team when he started the Training for Success (TfS) Programme in September 2017 with Café 180 / Southern Regional College in Portadown. Micheal found it difficult to settle into training and new routines. He had 3 work placements during his training – the most recent being a new coffee shop in Portadown. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 the training placement stopped last year as did his practical work within Café 180.
Louise McGarrity, Disability Action’s TFS Education & Training Officer, said:
Micheal continued to work on his NVQ remotely and achieved his Level 1 qualification in Catering and Hospitality. The staff in Café 180 supported him with his learning and emotional needs throughout his training, which increased during the remote learning in mid-March 2020. We had hoped that Micheal might move into paid employment with his work placement but due to COVID-19 that didn’t happen.
Louise discussed job search with Micheal and his mother and from June last year they became active in their search for paid work. Unfortunately again due to COVID-19 restrictions few opportunities arose, however those that did had a high level of interest.
I worked with Micheal to update his CV and he was referred to our Job Match team in August. Micheal was very keen to secure paid work and, with support from his mum, he was proactive in his search and visited local businesses enquiring about job opportunities.
Colin McElroy, one of our Job Match Supported Employment Officers, was introduced to Micheal:
Micheal came on board the Job Match programme at a very challenging time due to the COVID-19 restrictions. However, he was not deterred and as we continued our job search, it was clear that this was a determined young man, who wanted to work in his chosen area of catering and hospitality.
As Micheal searched independently, he secured an interview with Mount Charles Catering based in Moy Park, Portadown. Colin continued:
It was apparent from the start that this was a great employer, with a good understanding of disability. Micheal was offered a short work trial and both he and the employer agreed that this role would be a good match for him. He was then offered the post and quickly underwent all the necessary training to help him adjust. His manager Megan and I discussed how he could be further supported by the Workable NI programme and the referral was made to my colleague Lynda Brown.
Micheal has progressed well, undertaking extra shifts when required. He is making friends at work and, with Lynda and Megan’s support, there is no reason why this role won’t be sustained long-term.
Lynda Brown, Workable NI Employment & Training Officer, said:
Micheal required some additional support to help him make the transition from training into the real world of work and paid employment, which I am supporting him with.
Lynda will continue to support Micheal in identified areas specific to his needs until he feels competent in his job and his employer is satisfied that he is doing his job to an acceptable standard.
Micheal’s Manager at Mount Charles, Megan Anderson, said:
Mount Charles has always been an equal opportunity employer and they have a great positive approach to employing and sustaining disabled people. Michael has been a great example of someone who with the correct support and help can become a valued member of the team. Lynda from Workable NI has helped us understand more of his needs and how we can support him so we both get the best out of his employment. I would recommend the Workable NI programme to any employer.
Speaking about the support he received from Disability Action and about his new job, Micheal said:
I was nervous about starting full time work; I feel more confident now and all the staff have helped me feel welcome. My Café 180 experience helped me a lot and I am very glad of the opportunity. Colin was a good help in finding a job and what to expect about coming into full-time work.