Putting ability first

Helping to provide work in areas of high unemployment.

As part of Learning Disability Awareness Week, three stories from McDonalds employees who have been found jobs with the aid of disability support group Remploy.

Sarah’s ‘lovin it’ at McDonald’s

Sarah Curry, 23 years old, from Small Heath has never had a job before. She has epilepsy which can cause her to have blackouts and fits. Now she’s fully managing her condition and recently got a job with McDonald’s at their restaurant on Chester Road.

Sarah is part of Project Dynamo which is provided by Remploy, the disability employment specialists. Project Dynamo aims to increase the employment rate of people with learning disabilities, which at just six per cent is the lowest rate of employment among all disabled people.

She said: “I always thought I couldn’t work because of my epilepsy. Not many people understand how horrible it makes you feel, but I have medication to control the fitting now and I just need to be careful doing certain tasks to make sure they are not triggers. Trying to find work was really stressful and I thought my condition would restrict what I could do. I’m really enjoying my job with McDonald’s though and I’m hoping to have a successful career with them.”

Through Project Dynamo, Remploy experts deliver specialist learning disability training to existing McDonald’s staff, developing their skills and enabling them to take on a job coach role to support individuals with a learning disability.

Gemma Bracebridge, Sarah’s Job Coach at McDonald’s, Chester Road, said: “When Sarah first came to us she wasn’t very confident, however she has really grown since then and come on leaps and bounds. She really has come a very long way and I’m enjoying working with her.”

Providing support from an internal job coach who really understands the business enables the person with a learning disability to settle quicker and also adds new skills to the workforce, creating a more inclusive working environment.

Remploy Employment Advisor Jeanette McMahon said: “Project Dynamo really worked well for Sarah because she didn’t have to go through the traditional formal interview process. McDonald’s has been really supportive and enabled Sarah to try different roles. She was really nervous on her first day because she didn’t know what to expect, however slowly but surely she got better at knowing what to do and is now doing a lot more independently – she’s doing really well.”

“I am much more confident in what I’m doing,” added Sarah, “I don’t let the epilepsy affect this. I’m more independent now I’m working and don’t have to rely on my parents for money anymore. As well as this I have a better social life outside of home now too.”

Blake drives his new career with McDonald’s

Blake Goode found leaving college and finding a job difficult. Now he’s enjoying success as a crew member with Mcdonald’s in Yenton, working on the drive through, among other duties.

23 year old Blake, from Stechford, is also part of Project Dynamo. Blake, who has a learning disability, said: “Working has changed my life! I was unemployed for a year and a half after I left college, it was really tough because I made lots of friends while I was there but lost touch with them after. Getting a job has helped me to socialise again and I have so much more confidence than I did. I work on the drive through as well as front of house, serving food to customers and welcoming them.”

Providing support from an internal job coach who really understands the business enables someone with a learning disability to settle quicker and also adds new skills to the workforce, creating a more inclusive working environment.

Ryan Seymour, Blake’s Job Coach at McDonald’s Yenton said: “Blake’s always wanting to learn and improve. I feel very proud of what he’s achieved and I’m glad he’s picked up the role so quickly and fits into the team really well. I’m very happy to coach Blake and feel like it has been a valuable experience for me too.”

Blake added: “I am enjoying more recognition and being given the opportunity to succeed in life. I have been given great support from Ryan who now knows my strengths and weaknesses, so he can help me to develop. I don’t see any limits now and would encourage people in my position not to give up on their dreams. Anything is possible, with or without a disability!”

McDonald’s is just the place for Len

Leonard Danbury doesn’t have to travel far to his new job with McDonald’s; it’s a quick stroll from his house to the New Oscott branch, where he helps with tasks including cleaning, restocking and making drinks.

It’s a new challenge for 54 year old Len who has a learning disability and worked in supported employment for 26 years. He’s another employee who benefitted from Project Dynamo. Len’s learning disability means he sometimes struggles to multi-task and he describes himself as being “slower to pick things up and understand complex words and sentences”.

Len said: “I always wanted to find a proper job of my own. I just couldn’t do interviews, so this programme really helped as I got to show McDonald’s what I can do and how I can help them. I used to be quite shy but having a job has helped me to be more confident and I now feel comfortable talking to people, and asking for help if I need it.”

Natalie, Len’s Job Coach at New Oscott said: “He’s come such a long way since starting work with us. We went through the training to see what support he needed and put adjustments in place. It’s been really lovely to see him grow as a person. He is understanding of people’s needs which is great for the restaurant too.”

Remploy Employment Advisor Beth Kimberley said: “Len has been a pleasure to work with. As someone considered to have multiple barriers to work, he has settled into his role really well. I have supported him by visiting on a weekly basis during the first two months and ensuring his job coach and McDonald’s have a full understanding of his abilities.”

She added: “I have also been providing weekly coaching on the McDonald’s online system, which he uses to check his weekly shifts. Using the computer is something Len finds difficult, however he is improving each week and will soon be independent with this. Len has worked with most advisors at Remploy in Birmingham and we’re all very proud of him and everything he has achieved.”