“I am a lot happier and do not dwell on my disability any more. I’m more independent”
Mother of four Paula Jacob was unemployed and described herself as depressed, stressed and unstable before she was referred to Remploy for support in finding a job.
Paula, who is blind in one eye was out of work for a year and was depressed because her disability ruled her out of applying for some jobs such as driving.
She was referred to Remploy’s Waterloo branch in London where she received support with job search and an Marks & Spencer day course.
As a result, Paula, aged 52, joined the Marks & Start scheme, M&S’s community flagship programme in which Remploy is a partner, and began a two week work placement in London at the M&S store at The More, London Bridge.
Now in its sixth year, the innovative initiative aims to provide better access to employment for lone parents, homeless, disabled and young and long-term unemployed people through a specially designed work experience placement.
“The Marks & Spencer staff were extremely helpful, friendly and welcoming. I really felt part of the team on my placement. I had two buddies who gave me instructions and showed me what to do. The relationship was very positive and friendly
Within a month of her work placement, Paula got a permanent role as a customer assistant at The More store. “I look forward to going to work. The Marks & Start programme is a great initiative as it enables disabled people like myself who lack confidence and have low self-esteem to realise their potential. It has been a life changing experience,” Paula said.
Zabir Khonat, store manager, commented: “Paula has adapted well to her role in the store. She is a good team player and is up to any challenge we set.”
Find out more about visual impairments with our A-Z of disabilities