Employ Me have supported Thomas to do a week of work experience at Marks and Spencer, as well as completing a job application. "I did the shelves, nearest at the front, older at the back" remembers Thomas.
The Employ Me Team are always looking to approach employers about offering job opportunities to people with a learning disability. The team spotted that Legoland were having a recruitment drive for their summer shifts.
"I made contact with Gemma, their recruitment specialist, and talked about Mencap's work" says Facilitator, Andy. "We spoke a few times and I felt confident that Thomas could apply. We completed the online application together and he was asked to come into Legoland for the next step, which was a group interview."
"We went along together to be sure he got to the right place at the right time, and I remained nearby for reassurance. Thomas was really great, he got involved with the other candidates."
"Without Andy there I felt 70% confident, but with him there I felt in the 90s" says Thomas. "I enjoyed it once I got to know people. The staff explained things slowly and didn't give loads of questions. We did team building exercises and made castles out of lego. We were given a handful of cards with different Legoland jobs on and then we had to act them out to the rest of the room."
"I was so impressed" remembers Andy. "At the end of the day they told the group 'Everyone has been successful and we'd like to offer you a job'."
"I prepared myself not to get it, so when I did, I couldn't believe it! I thought I was dreaming, I had to pinch myself!"
During the month before he started work, with support from the Employ Me Team, Thomas worked on travelling to Legoland alone.
"He's done so well" says Thomas's Mum, "getting there on time, catching a train and then a bus. To begin with he would call me at all the stops and when he was getting on and off, but now he doesn't. It proves how far he's come."
"It's been such a boost to his confidence and self-esteem" says Andy.
Thomas now works in the Hilltop Cafe at Legoland, as part of the restaurant team; serving food and drinks, waiting on tables, clearing tables, cleaning and tidying, and helping customers. As soon as Thomas started the job, Mencap applied for Access to Work funding to provide help with job coaching and support for his colleagues, answering queries and checking everything is ok with his general well-being.
"The staff at Legoland seem very kind, caring and understand Thomas' needs" says Mum. "It's been so good for him. He get up early and goes to bed at a reasonable time. He's more confident and so happy working. His self-esteem has rocketed and his conversation is better as he now has something to talk about."
Apart from the money, Thomas says the best thing about working is that he gets lots of selfies with tourists.
"I can't exaggerate enough how happy I am for Thomas" says Andy, "this has transformed him."
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