After leaving college I gained a place on Mencap's employment scheme, the Shine Project, which helped me find work.
On the Shine project, I had a support worker who helped me with job applications and work placements. I did research on what jobs were out there that might be suitable for me.
It was difficult finding something suitable and finding something close to where I live, because I don't drive. I tried for a job at a garage near where I live and my support worker came to the interview and sat in with me.
I didn't feel so nervous during the interview. It was ok, but I thought ‘oh no, what did you say that for?’, but it is what it is!
With the help of my Mencap support worker I looked online and in papers. I found filling out the application forms more difficult than the interview, you know making sure all the details are right and there's never enough room to write on those forms.
When I got my interview at Tesco, I did some interview training with my support worker a week before so I could practice some of the things I might be asked at the interview. I was quite lucky actually, because I knew one of the managers at Tesco, a friend. We met at an Open Day, so I was able to get some advice on the sort of things they might ask me, not the exact questions but just the type of subjects to research. I was really quite lucky with that.
Charlotte pictured above with David, General Store Manager at Tesco.
At the beginning, my job was for a bag packer, but I was quickly moved onto working on the tills. I did this almost straight away, so that was a bit of a surprise for me.
I was delighted, I wasn't expecting it at all. Having a job means so much to me, it’s my independence, paying my way, buying what I want to buy and being able to go on holiday. I feel valued, and my parents were really delighted for me too.
Improving employment for people with a learning disability
I feel companies should take on more people with a learning disability. I don't think companies consider us enough for jobs. It would benefit the company and also the young people working for them. I've benefited so much from my job, It’s made me such a different person by having a job. I've got better social skills and a great social life and I've learnt so much from being at work.
The best thing about my job is I have regular customers, who even ask for me when I'm not in. I know all the people I work with and we have a good old giggle at work.
If I could give advice to someone else with a learning disability looking for a job, I'd say: stay in your comfort zone, keep to your skills and what you know you can do and it makes it easier, because at the interview you know what to say.
I've now worked for Tesco for seven and a half years, working mainly as a customer assistant on the checkout. I get involved across other areas of the store.
Charlotte is a great ambassador, with great personality that customers love. She's a really strong colleague for us.
David Harmon, General Store Manager
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