Sarah is a disarming 26-year-old lady who loves art, cooking, and West Ham United football club. She is a season ticket holder and likes nothing better than attending a weekend match with her dad! Sarah lives with profound deafness and autism, and prior to attaining paid employment, she attended a day service at ECL Chelmsford (Greenacres) four days a week, where she undertook work-based training to hone her catering skills.
With her training under her belt, Sarah was keen to get a paid job in catering, and ECL’s Inclusive Employment team was ready to help her find her ideal job.
It was Inclusive Employment Consultant Caroline Giess, who helped Sarah to prepare. Together they completed a vocational profile to determine what type of job would best suit Sarah and created an impressive CV to help her apply for suitable positions.
Sarah used British Sign Language (BSL) to tell us, “I felt very nervous at first, but I really wanted to find a job where I felt included and an employer that would support me to have a BSL interpreter at work with me.”
With this in mind, Caroline approached The Lion Inn, who had employed another gentleman with learning disabilities for over 12 years, to find out if they would have a position for Sarah. The Lion Inn has a very inclusive stance, so they were open to finding out more about Sarah and offered her a work trial. The Lion Inn General Manager, Leighanne Ship, commented, “It was clear during the work trial that Sarah’s knowledge of food hygiene was sound, and her knife skills were excellent. In fact, she is too skilled for a kitchen porter role, so we offered her a job as a Prep Chef, working 15 hours a week.”
Sarah was very excited to start her job in August 2022, supported by ECL Inclusive Employment Job Coach Linda Thompson, who helped Sarah settle into her role, guiding her through the onboarding process and the e-learning. Sarah picked the job up extremely quickly, so Linda could soon take a step back. She still does regular sustainment checks with Sarah and Leighanne, and they both know they can quickly contact her if any concerns arise.
Sarah is also fortunate to have the crucial assistance of a BSL interpreter provided by the Royal Association for the Deaf at every shift. They facilitate the essential day-to-day conversation in the workplace and communication between the Lion Inn and Sarah’s mum.
When we asked how Sarah felt about working at The Lion Inn, she signed, “I am so happy. I feel part of a team, have made new friends, and now have my own money and bank account!”
For more information about ECL Inclusive Employment, visit: ecl.org/services/learning-disability-autism-support/inclusive-employment