I attended the Ingeus office and felt straightaway that the advisors focussed on my abilities
Kevin Irvine, a wheelchair user from Wigan, is celebrating his new job at a local supermarket after trying to find work for five years and sending more than 500 application letters in just seven months.
Thirty-eight-year-old Kevin is now working as a checkout operative for Morrisons at his local Ince store after being supported into employment by Working Well (Work and Health Programme) which provides tailored support to jobseekers with disabilities and health conditions.
Kevin has osteoporosis, a brittle bone disease, and although he uses crutches to get around for short periods, he regularly relies on his wheelchair to travel further distances. He has also been diagnosed with CTX, which involves monitoring and controlling his cholesterol levels which if unchecked, could cause internal organ damage.
Struggling to find work since 2013, determined Kevin voluntarily joined Working Well (Work and Health Programme) following a referral from Jobcentre Plus work coach, Joanne Gwinnett. Working Well (Work and Health Programme) is an employment support programme delivered in Wigan by Ingeus. It is an initiative commissioned by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and receives support from the European Social Fund.
“I attended the Ingeus office and felt straightaway that the advisors focussed on my abilities,” explained Kevin. “They asked me what my skills were and what help I needed. My legs might not work so well, but my brain and arms do, and I have worked in retail before.”
Ingeus key worker Emma Craven explained that Kevin had been totally committed in his search for work and had attended Ingeus confidence-building sessions as well as workshops to improve his interview techniques and CV writing.
“Kevin also came in to produce specific job application letters and we must have sent more than 500 for advertised vacancies,” said Emma. “On just one occasion he had to lick and seal more than 100 envelopes. If that doesn’t show how determined Kevin is - I’m not sure what does.
“We still keep in touch on a weekly basis and it is lovely to see how enthusiastic Kevin is about his work. He has recently been awarded a voucher from the supermarket in recognition of delivering excellent customer service.”
Priscilla Holsten, store manager at Morrisons’ Ince supermarket, added: “When Kevin came for his group interview it was based around giving our customers fantastic service, and given the number of compliments that I have received about Kevin, we absolutely made the right choice. Kevin has totally fitted into our team and it's great to see his confidence grow every day.”
Kevin is now using his experience to inform employers and motivate other jobseekers with disabilities and health conditions.
“I think it is important that business leaders hear first-hand about the level of motivation and commitment that many job applicants with disabilities can bring to their workforce,” he explained at a recent Ingeus diversity event. “I asked the employers to see the person first – not the chair before the individual and to keep an open mind when they receive an application from someone who is successfully managing their condition.”
Kevin added: “My job search has paid off and l love working at Morrisons. My message to everyone looking for work and living with a health condition or disability is not to give up. Get some effective help and encouragement like I found with Ingeus and keep on trying.”