“For two years I was applying for job after job"
Jeffrey Albiston, 30, from Chester, has fulfilled his ambition to return to work after six frustrating months of job hunting - thanks to a partnership between disability employment specialists Remploy and high-street retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S).
Jeff, who has Asperger Syndrome, was referred to Remploy for help in securing a work placement with M&S through its Marks & Start initiative. He is now a full time Customer Advisor for the M&S Retail Customer Services team which is based in Chester.
He made a fantastic impression during his four-week Marks & Start placement, which included learning more about the wide variety of roles and responsibilities held in the Customer Services, Executive Office and Social Media teams, and experience working in the Chester office’s busy post room. Jeff was enthusiastic from the start and the team at Customer Services had no hesitation in offering him a permanent job - an outcome Jeff had very much hoped for.
“I wanted to gain experience with M&S, as I knew they were a reputable company who always seem to have happy, friendly staff working for them,” said Jeff. “I wanted to be part of a brand that represents great values and could give me the opportunities to develop and expand my knowledge in a different area.”
Marks & Start helps people who, like Jeff, face complex barriers to employment. The initiative gives jobseekers the chance to develop their skills and gain experience over the course of a placement, and is designed to be the stepping-stone to employment with M&S or with other employers. Remploy is one of the partners M&S works with, focusing on helping individuals with health conditions and disabilities to gain vital workplace skills and sustainable employment.
“Before I joined the Marks & Start programme, I was going from agency job to agency job, which was incredibly frustrating as I didn’t know if I would be needed the following week,” said Jeff. “For two years I was applying for job after job – anything where I thought I might stand a chance. However I was not getting noticed, and the frustration of not hearing back from employers was, at times, overwhelming.”
Jeff was referred to Remploy for help with his job hunting. What followed was a package of intensive support, including rebuilding his confidence, tips on how to perform better in job interviews and guidance on working in the retail sector. With Remploy’s help, he applied for a sought-after Marks & Start placement and was delighted when he learned of his success.
Lucy Simons, Senior Customer Advisor and Plan A Champion for M&S Retail Customer Services and the Executive Office, praised Jeff’s commitment and was not surprised to hear of his success. “During his placement, he was a wonderful addition to our team and his enthusiasm and confidence grew weekly. It’s been a very positive and enjoyable experience for us all, and we’re very excited to see how Jeff’s career will progress with M&S.”
Remploy’s Tim Fox, who advised Jeff and continues to support him in his job, added, “This is a great example of how our partnership with M&S really can make all the difference to disabled jobseekers. Despite many setbacks, Jeff’s skills, his persistence and his determination never to give up made him stand out, and we’re all delighted to hear of this really great outcome.”
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