Jeff gets his new start at Marks & Spencer | Remploy

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Published Wednesday, 9th September 2015

Jeff has fulfilled his ambition to return to work after six frustrating months of job hunting.

 Marks and Spencers call centre worker sitting in front of computer screen with headset on

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.” 


Photo caption: Jeff Albiston, back in work after support from disability employment specialists Remploy.

For further information, please contact:

Tim Crowther, Crowther Communications Ltd

07710 356355

David Felton, Remploy

07803 214682

Remploy Notes to Editors:

Remploy was established 70 years ago to provide training and employment after the Second World War for injured and disabled ex-servicemen and miners.

Since 2010, Remploy has found almost 100,000 jobs in mainstream employment for people with a range pf physical, sensory and learning disabilities, mental health conditions and other disadvantages.

Remploy work with more than 2,500 employer partners including Marks and Spencer, BT, ASDA, Royal Mail, Sainsbury’s and the NHS

Remploy has an increasing focus on providing specialist disability employment services to people with mental health conditions or learning disabilities.

It invests in developing innovating approaches and services for employers which are cost effective and business efficient including consultancy and vocational rehabilitation services.

In April 2015 Remploy left government ownership in a joint venture between MAXIMUS, a leading operator of government health and human service programmes in the United Satets, UK, Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia, and Remploy employees who have a 30% stake in the company.

Marks & Start Facts and Figures 

M&S works with four programme partners to support those who face barriers to employment:

  • The Prince’s Trust (young people between the ages of 16-25)
  • Remploy (people with disabilities and health conditions)
  • Business in the Community's Ready for Work programme (people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness)
  • Gingerbread (lone parents).

Since 2004, over 10,000 participants have taken part in Marks & Start.

Over the last 10 years, an average of 60% who completed placements have gone into employment with M&S or another employer within 13 weeks.

90% of participants report that Marks & Start has helped to improve their confidence and helped them in their steps to find work.

Around 300 M&S stores across the UK support the programme each year.

Marks & Start helps us create a more diverse and inclusive workplace – around 35% of Marks & Start participants have some sort of disability and currently an average of 60% of participants are aged 16-25.