28 November 2018.
The Accelerate project helps people with a learning disability or autism find sustainable, paid employment.
Journey guides work on a one-to-one basis with participants, helping them understand and navigate the world of work.
David is one such participant who spent years trying to find the right opportunity for paid work – this is his story in his own words.
“My journey to paid employment has been a struggle, as I was abused, neglected and partly separated from society by my late adopted mother.
Even when I had paid work, I never had anything to do with my wages.
After my first meeting with Grapevine I realised I knew the interviewer, Mia.
Mia introduced me to Gordon at Grapevine, who helped me find creative writing groups and voluntary work with the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.
…in the hope that it would lead to a job I stuck with the Herbert ever since, like everyone else who made the effort to know what was going on with me, suggested.
I then had an opportunity for paid work at the Herbert in June 2014, but failed the interview as they felt I still needed to improve my confidence and skills.
So I kept trying for paid work, even looking at jobs outside of the Herbert, which I have been doing since 2002 by myself and since 2014 with Patrick from Open Doors (housing and support services).
We didn’t have much luck… Patrick then remembered Tess, who had helped other Open Doors tenants with paid employment.
Eventually Tess suggested a job scheme called Accelerate at Grapevine… Patrick and I took up the offer of joining Accelerate and this is when I met Alex.
Immediately Alex, in November 2016, found an opportunity for me with Russell’s Garden Centre. They said that I may or may not have a paid opportunity by March 2017, however gave me the chance to prove myself until then.
However, March came and went and I was still volunteering and looking for paid work due to not being qualified enough to replace a more skilled employee. Although they found me impressive enough to keep me as a volunteer.
As time went on with no luck in any paid opportunities for work I became worried that I would always be a volunteer.
However, I never gave up searching for paid opportunities and neither did Alex.
Due to this, as from October 2018, I am now a Casual Museum Assistant at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.
I am really happy I finally have paid work, although I feel I need time for it to sink in first, partly due to not having access to wages etc in my past and partly due to the end of the year being busy for me.
Plus, at the moment I am helping a colleague from the Herbert with plants for her garden with help from Russell’s Garden Centre.
I designed a plan for the garden in April last year and both her and her husband liked it and informed the gardener/builder of my idea and he finally finished it July this year.
Anyway even though I have a casual job at the Herbert, I am happy I finally have something to call my own and I hope my journey will inspire others.
If I can get there, anyone can.
Accelerate is a Building Better Opportunities Project funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund. It is delivered by a local partnership of organisations providing people with access to a wide range of job support services.