From a very early age, Anthony had a keen interest in gardening.
"When I was 13, I started looking after my parents and my uncle's garden. I would get rid of weeds and brambles - encouraging more flowers to grow - which I really enjoyed. Since then I have continued caring for gardens, especially now that I am working at Kew."
Now in his 30s, Anthony has his dream job at Kew Gardens as an Arboretum Horticulturalist, which he started in November 2016. But, the road to success wasn't an easy one. Anthony previously worked as a trainee and apprentice at Kew Gardens: "He excelled" explains Employment Co-ordinator Jesse Kailen, "but, unfortunately they were not able to take him on as an employee after the apprenticeship ended."
However, that didn't stop Anthony! He became even more determined to get a job there: "I kept checking adverts to see what opportunities were suitable and with the support from Mencap, they helped me to get the job I wanted."
So how difficult was it for Anthony to get his job?
"Since 2011, I attended several interviews at Kew Gardens" he explains, "I found some of the questions quite difficult; knowing what to say and then saying it. I needed to practise answering the questions in the right way and and to understand what they meant, which would then help me with my answers. When I was unsuccessful, the idea of working at Kew kept me going as I really love it there."
Does Anthony think employers understand that people with a learning disability might need some extra support?
Anthony feels that from his experience, Kew Gardens understood that he needed extra support. "They recognised that it was important to offer a level playing field for the job" explains Jesse. "It's very important that candidates get an opportunity to plan what they are going to say because it can be so difficult to collect your thoughts during the interview. Kew Gardens understood that Anthony has support needs and agreed to provide the questions in advance which helped him to structure his replies as well as share his knowledge and experience."
Anthony beams when he talks about his job, and reflects on the day last year when he found out that he had got it; "I was really happy when I found out I got the job. I believe I can thrive at Kew; it feels very good to be earning money, it helps me to do new things and gives me a sense of achievement."
"I am excited to further my experience and knowledge, and fulfil my potential. I would like to stay at Kew Gardens until I retire!"
Anthony's advice on finding the right job is "don't give up, talk to someone, be positive and keep trying your best in an area you like and have a passion for. Mencap were very supportive of me, which I appreciate immensely."
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