A disabled man from Leeds who feared he might never work again is celebrating being back in work, thanks to an innovative partnership between Marks & Spencer and Remploy, the UK’s leading provider of specialist employment services.
James Haile, 42, who has epilepsy, had been unemployed for more than three years when he was referred to Remploy’s branch in Leeds city centre, where he received support with job searching, interview techniques and – crucially – confidence building.
“Unemployment dented my confidence, but Remploy helped get me back on track,” said James, who secured a two week work placement on the Marks & Start scheme, M&S’s community flagship programme.
Now in its sixth year, the innovative Marks & Start initiative aims to provide better access to employment for lone parents, homeless, disabled and young and long-term unemployed people. It provides participants with a specially designed work experience placement to help them rebuild confidence and develop new skills for life and work.
Soon after completing the placement at M&S’s Briggate store in Leeds, James was offered a temporary contract as an Operations Assistant in the store’s busy warehouse.
“Being out of work was boring and demoralising,” added James. “But since I’ve had this job I have made many new friends and now have some spare cash, as well. In fact, I recently had my first proper holiday in more than two-and-a-half years!”
Toni Chapman, M&S’s Recruitment Coordinator at the store described James as the perfect colleague. “He always has a smile on his face and is ready and willing to help. In fact, he has settled in so well that it feels as if he has been here forever!”
James is now hoping to secure a permanent job with M&S and draws inspiration from a colleague at the Briggate store. “Like me, he started in a temporary job – and he’s now been with the company for 23 years!”
Earlier this year Remploy signed a partnership with Marks & Spencer that will boost job opportunities for people at stores across the country. As part of the deal, Marks & Spencer has committed to increase the number of people recruited through Remploy by at least 10 per cent this year and share information about all its vacancies with Remploy.