Four years on and Jennifer, our first client supported into work, is still thriving at Sainsbury’s!
When Clarion first started its Welfare to Work specialist employability support for Deaf and hard of hearing customers during the summer of 2011, Jennifer Banton of Stevenage was referred to us through our partnership with Ingeus on the Work Programme.
Jennifer was supported with job searching activities with one of our Communication and Employment Consultants (CEC) Anna Calstar-Fisher, and within just a few weeks became our very first customer into work with her local Sainsbury’s store! Jennifer’s story was widely publicised in local media, Ingeus and even DWP ran the story on their website!
That was all of four years ago and we recently caught up with Jennifer again and were delighted to hear that she is still thriving at the Sainsbury’s store at Coreys Mill, Stevenage. Anna has provided Jennifer with ongoing communication support, via the Government’s Access to Work scheme, to ensure everything runs smoothly and has now become a well-known part of the furniture herself around the store!
We asked Jennifer how having a job has changed her life:
“It feels strange to think back to when I was out of work for 12 years. I have now been working for 4 years and have gained confidence and made some good friends, both hearing and deaf. I am now more confident to explain to new colleagues how to communicate with me and in some cases teach some basic sign language, some of them have gone on to learn level 1 BSL themselves. Our former Store Trainer had also learnt some sign language when she was selected as one of the London Olympic Helpers!”
Jennifer’s Groceries Online Manager, Julian Martin has been very supportive of Jennifer’s needs and requirements and commented: “Retail is such a fast paced industry, we change process & procedures frequently to ensure we’re doing the right thing for our customers and colleagues. Without Anna’s continued support, especially helping Jen to be involved in Team Huddles and development, it would be very difficult to ensure that Jen fully understands what we are asking of her. Jen seems to be really enjoying her role within Sainsbury’s & continues to impress me”
Anna, who has since successfully supported many other Deaf customers into work in a similar way to Jennifer explains: “I think one of the most important aspects of being a CEC is the long term In Work Support that can be provided to the Deaf employee and their employers. Staff and Managers come and go or transfer to different stores and that can become rather disorientating to a Deaf employee getting to know new colleagues. CECs provide support on a regular basis and negate the stress that can build up if the Deaf employee struggles with communication. It is also reassuring for the employer and employee to know that they have an Interpreter that they can call upon when there is development training or new procedures to be explained”
Acknowledging Anna’s comments, Jennifer went on to say: “I feel secure knowing it will be the same CEC (Anna) supporting me every month and whenever I need her. I have built up a strong relationship with Anna and I would worry if I had different Interpreters as they may not understand me as well as Anna does. If I do not understand something or have a problem linked to work I can always text Anna and she will advise the best course of action”.
Bob Marsh UK Business Development Manager at Clarion who pioneered the CEC model says “I have nothing but praise for Sainsbury’s for the way that they have welcomed Jennifer into their team and every piece of advice and support that was provided was enthusiastically received”
If you would like to know more about Clarion’s unique and holistic employability support for Deaf and hard of hearing customers please contact Bob Marsh on 01763 209001 or via email.