Andy Martin, 44, is a Café Assistant at the Cornish Maid Café in the small village of Mawnan Smith near Falmouth.
Cornish Maid is a family run business and the hub of the local community. It specialises in serving locally made, fresh Cornish produce such as homemade soups, pasties, cakes and bread as well as selling locally crafted gifts, teas and preserves.
Andy had two strokes and a cardiac arrest eight years ago which has subsequently left him with speech and sight impairments.
Pluss delivers Work Choice, the Department for Work and Pensions specialist disability employment programme. Work Choice receives funding from the European Social Fund for customers referred to the programme prior to 25th April 2017.
“I serve people, take orders, clean the tops, empty the dishwasher and do some of the cooking. I mostly enjoy working with the boss [Sarah] and her Mum. She’s funny.
“I had two strokes and a cardiac arrest eight years ago. I was in hospital for five months. It left me with speech and sight impediments. I feel I am one of the lucky ones though because I have seen people who have had strokes that have no feeling in their arms.
“I couldn’t speak and I had to learn again from scratch. I ended up going home to live with my Mum and Step-Dad here in Mawnan Smith. My whole family have helped me so much. I live independently now although Mum still helps me with my finances, cleaning and ironing.
“After my strokes, my confidence really went down hill. I didn’t like meeting people because I am very conscious of my speech and I became quite secluded. I also wear glasses with a frosted lens, so I don’t see double.
“Life after my stroke was ok but I didn’t think I would ever get back into work. I used to be an Operations Manager at a book factory but it went bust whilst I was in hospital. I did voluntary work at the library and still do at the British Heart Foundation. I did want to work but because of my speech I felt I couldn’t as I find it hard to communicate. Still I thought ‘I have had a stroke; whatever happens, happens’.
“Then I was sent to Pluss who could see the potential in me. I did some employability training and got advice on how to find a job. It was very good. My consultant Trevor helped me with my CV and to look for a job.
“This is my first job since I had my stroke and it feels really good. Now I get out and about and I’m sure it’s because I work here. I know more people. I have a reason to get up in the morning. I think I’ve got more confidence; just the way I am with other people, with strangers. I am not as conscious as I used to be about my voice.
“I used to play rugby and now I am back in contact with my old friends. I also love a game of golf with my Dad and I recently ran 5k in the Mawnan Smith Fun Run where I raised over £600 for the Stroke Association. I have also just completed my Level 2 Food Hygiene and First Aid.”
Sarah Bailey’s words, Owner, Cornish Maid
“I first met Andy when he and his Pluss consultant, Trevor, used to meet here in the café.
“Andy then asked me for a job face to face. Trevor told me about what Pluss do and I was interested. I thought Andy was so young to have had a stroke and could see through this; after all a stroke could happen to anyone and everyone deserves a chance. If people don’t get given a chance then there’s no hope for any of us. So I said yes.
“Andy is very likeable, funny and is getting on really well. He has a positive attitude, is punctual, willing and he chats to all the customers. They ask ‘Where’s Andy today?’ which just shows the response he gets from people.
“Andy is really good at food preparation and very good with food hygiene; he reminds me of things we need to do. Andy will always help me if I need him to work when he’s not due in too. He is happy and we have fun.
“Having Andy here has made a big difference to the business. It has also made us think differently about things; life in general. My Mum loves working with him and they work really well as a team. Andy also delivers lunch to a 93 year old in the village and it’s good that he helps me to help other people.
“I have really seen Andy’s confidence increase during his time here. He is smiling all the time now. I try and encourage him do that bit more; he’ll say no and I’ll say yes! I am keen for him to do lots of courses and to really push him forwards. He is due to do coffee training shortly so he knows how to make cappuccinos.
“I would definitely do this again. I would say to other employers; take a look at yourself and do it!”
Reverend Stewart Turner of Mawnan Smith Parish and Cornish Maid customer
“Andy is very good; very helpful. He smiles a lot, is conscientious and tries very hard; a very obliging man.”