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Published Wednesday, 11th March 2015

Four disabled jobseekers from Suffolk have spoken movingly of the frustration and stress unemployment caused them and of their gratitude for the specialist support they received in finding work with one of Britain’s leading retailers.

Four disabled jobseekers from Suffolk have spoken movingly of the frustration and stress unemployment caused them and of their gratitude for the specialist support they received in finding work with one of Britain’s leading retailers.

Christopher Brett, 59, Ricardo Jackson, 22, Alastair Milbank, 26, and forty-four-year-old Michael Russell, are all working at the Tesco Superstore in Bury St Edmunds, thanks to a partnership between the retailer and Remploy, a leading provider of specialist employment services for disabled and disadvantaged people.

Describing unemployment as an “unbelievably traumatic experience”, Christopher, from Bury St Edmunds, recalled how he felt when he was made redundant from his previous job as a kitchen assistant in a care home. “My world collapsed. Work was my life. Before I moved to Suffolk I had been a school bursar in Cornwall, responsible for 20 primary schools. Not having a job was the opposite end of the scale!”

He believes the stress of being out of work led to a decline in his health. “I already had a hearing impairment but I developed a heart condition and was diagnosed with diabetes. It was a dreadful period.”

Christopher, Ricardo, Alastair and Michael were all referred by Jobcentre Plus to Remploy, where they received tailored one-to-one support with their job searching, including help creating a new CV and advice on interview techniques. And when vacancies arose at Tesco, they were selected for a work trial and eventually all offered jobs.

“I’m really enjoying the job,” said Christopher. “The work trial went well and it was such a relief when I was told I had got the job. I like meeting customers and I never forget I am an ambassador for Tesco. A smile goes a long way.

“I can’t thank Remploy enough for the help they gave me. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without them. They were on my side and got me back to work.”

Ricardo, also from Bury St Edmunds, has dyslexia. He had struggled to find work after leaving college but is now enjoying his first job. “It’s great working here,” he said. “I hated not having a job, particularly as all my friends were working. But it did give me a chance to complete a Prince’s Trust course, which developed my people skills and showed me the importance of working as a team, which is what I do here.”

Alastair, from Great Henny near Sudbury and Michael who lives in Newmarket, are also enjoying the benefits that come with having a job. “I like it best when it’s busy,” said Alastair who has Asperger’s Syndrome. “I had done some work experience at B&Q in Bury St Edmunds but when that came to an end I couldn’t find work. It was very frustrating.

“I was overjoyed to get this job. Remploy were very helpful. The help they gave me took me out of the shadows and into the limelight.”

Michael, who has a learning disability, had to give up his job of 18 years when he moved with his family from Hertfordshire. “I was living in a new town with no friends and on top of that I didn’t have a job or any money of my own. It was terrible.

“But Maureen Horan, my employment advisor at Remploy helped me fill out application forms and got me the work trial at Tesco. I was very nervous at first but I soon settled in. Now, I’ve got a permanent job, money and some new friends.”

“Work trials offer candidates who might struggle in a formal interview to show they have the skills and ability to do a job,” said Ian Kearsley, a Remploy In-Work Support advisor in East Anglia. “We knew Christopher, Ricardo, Alastair and Michael all had the qualities that Tesco look for in its employees. Thankfully, because of the close relationship Remploy has with Tesco, we were able to arrange a work trial that allowed them to get a foot in the door.”

Siobhan Staniland, Tesco's HR manager at the Bury St Edmunds store added: “We are delighted to welcome four new colleagues to the team at Bury St Edmunds.

“The partnership with Remploy is very important to Tesco. I know that Remploy candidates will always be well prepared and enthusiastic. It doesn’t matter if a person is disabled. It’s their ability that is important.”

ENDS

For further information and interview requests, please contact Remploy press office: 0300 456 8121



Notes to editors:
  • In the last four years Remploy Employment Services has found more than 50,000 jobs in mainstream employment for people with a range of physical, sensory and mental disabilities and other disadvantages.
  • Remploy is driven by the fundamental belief that every disabled person can, with appropriate support and specialist advice, secure sustainable employment
  • Employment Services has an increasing focus on providing specialist disability employment services to people with mental health conditions or learning disabilities
  • It continues to invest in developing innovative approaches and services for employers which are cost effective and business efficient including consultancy and vocational rehabilitation services
  • Remploy ES partners with more than 2,500 of the country’s biggest employers including BT, ASDA, Royal Mail, Sainsbury’s, the NHS and Marks & Spencer