M & S is just the job for Holly | M & S is just the job for Holly | Remploy
Holly Wilkinson

A 21-year-old North Yorkshire woman, who has been job hunting since she left school, has finally been given the career start she yearned for, thanks to disability employment specialists Remploy and Northallerton’s Marks & Spencer store. Holly Wilkinson, who has autism and had been unemployed for two years, was referred to Remploy who then helped her secure a work placement with M&S through its Marks & Start initiative.

“Before starting with M&S, I spent most of my time at home feeling very low and demoralized,” she said. “Most people of my age want a job and I was no exception. However I thought I would never get the chance to prove that I’m just as capable as anybody else.”

During her four-week placement at M&S Northallerton, Holly made such a great impression that her month-long placement turned into a temporary three-month job. Then Store Manager Vicky Stephenson offered her a permanent job as a customer assistant. Holly jumped at the chance!

“Employing Holly was an easy decision to make,” said Vicky. “She developed from a shy and introverted individual into somebody who is confident and really wants to do well, and these are exactly the qualities we look for.”

Holly added: “Having a job means everything to me. I have a reason to get out of the house and I’m proud to tell others that I have a job. Finally, I have a future to look forward to, and that means more than anything.”

Nathan Malley from Remploy works with M&S to find the right candidates for its Marks & Start programme. “Since we were appointed by M&S as its disability partner in May 2011, we have supported around 1,200 people into employment with the company, and that figure is increasing all the time. It’s a great success story for us, and for people like Holly, who have the opportunity to return to work or find meaningful employment for the first time.” 

Find out more about Autism spectrum disorder with our A-Z of disabilities