Landing your first “proper” job is tough for many young people in the UK. For 19-year-old Michael, having a learning disability has made that challenge all the harder. After a disrupted education, the East Londoner left school without his GCSEs and with his confidence badly dented. But everything started to change for Michael when Scope’s First Impressions, First Experiences programme set him up with a work placement at London Overground.
When I was in school my confidence was knocked. I was diagnosed with my condition in year eight. I was diagnosed because I had problems with my attendance. My mum thought I might have a bit of a learning disability because she works with kids herself. The day I was diagnosed with autism I felt a whole lot of relief.
I thought that without many skills and GCSEs it wasn’t going to be worth applying for things like apprenticeships. I thought I had no chance. Before I came to Scope I thought to myself I wasn’t going to get anywhere. But from day one at the course things started to look better.
When I first started the course, I was down in general and didn’t have much self-confidence. I couldn’t see how I’d get to where I wanted to be. I’ve always had a passion for transport, and working on buses was my dream job.
Getting my first work experience
First thing in 2013 I got the news that London Overground wanted me – brilliant. When I started with London Overground at the end of January, things picked up a lot more.
The Scope course dramatically improved my confidence and filled that gap that was holding me back. It gave me the chance to do work experience with London Overground, where I helped and assisted passengers with tickets and travel enquiries at Surrey Quays station. This work experience helped me to think “I can do this” and gave me a more positive outlook on life.
Now, I’m working part time at Stagecoach as a Customer Assistant on the number 15 bus route from Tower Hill to Trafalgar Square. I check tickets, offer travel advice to customers, supervise the platform and assist passengers with getting on and off the bus safely. I really love my job and I’m hoping that it will help me to achieve my dream of becoming a bus driver. Without First Impressions, First Experiences, I don’t think I’d be here.
A new outlook on life
I’ve always got a smile on my face and I’m cheery with customers. When they see that, they are more likely to have a chance of being a bit happier. Even a “good morning” or a “hello” makes someone feel a bit cheered up.
It’s like baby steps, one step after another. One step at a time is always the best policy and disabled people should be entitled to work no matter if it’s in an office or what.
When it comes down to it, go for it, no matter what way you take, you are going to get where you want to be.
Find out more about the First Impressions, First Experiences work training.