Andy's Story

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Photo of Andy and Richard

Andy Newby, 50, is a Handyman at Jem Scaffolding in Plymouth.

After being made redundant in 2010, Andy was out of work for 4 years. He is an extremely friendly and reliable chap who has a learning disability.

Andy’s words

“I do the cleaning inside then go into the yard where I do maintenance and sort the poles and fittings. I move the scaffold out of wagons into the right place. I generally keep the yard tidy.

“I like coming here and seeing the people. They are good people. They make me feel like I am part of the team. I am good at everything. I am a good timekeeper and am well organised. I know I have a job to do and am always happy. I don’t moan. I always just get on with it. I don’t mind bad weather either. 

“I have a learning disability which means I struggle to read or write and find it difficult to communicate. I also need help to learn new routines. I live with my Mum and Dad but I travel independently now. I catch two buses; it takes me about an hour to get to work.

“It is good to be paid. It means I am more independent. I go out for a beer in the city centre to watch football on the big screen on a Saturday. I am a Liverpool fan.

“Pluss helped me to get the job here. They helped me learn the bus route and do a work trial for six weeks. Then I got the job one day a week and it went up to three days. I have a job coach that helps me at work and I see my Employment Consultant every six weeks who checks on me.

“I was made redundant in 2010. I haven’t had paid work since. It’s a really good feeling to be back in work.”

Richard Barnes, Operations Director, Jem Scaffolding

“Andy has learnt exactly what he needs to do. He just goes off and does it so we don’t need to worry about it. He knows his routine and he makes our life much easier by just getting on with things.

“He’s a nice bloke. He is always a happy chap, you can’t fault his enthusiasm. He is confident enough to have a bit of a laugh and tells me off if I’ve forgotten to get the milk. He has definitely grown in confidence since he has been here. You can almost see him developing in stages; his level of awareness, who to talk to and of his own abilities. He is improving all the time. Now he has gone from needing a full time job coach to being capable of doing the job by himself. He can get though a full day without a job coach.

“Andy has broken down prejudices since he has been here. In this industry, some people may not understand people with different abilities. Since Andy’s been here his colleagues have befriended him, he is part of the team and they always ask him to do things for them. He has opened their eyes and is spoken to as an equal. It is a big thing in the construction industry to change thought processes.

“Pluss is very good. It’s great to see the way they support people into work. They come in every six weeks to review Andy’s progress. Andy’s job coaches are brilliant. They are supportive but step back when they know that Andy can do it. Andy is now confident enough to speak to me or Darren if he needs anything.

“It is an objective of Jem Scaffolding to give people opportunities across the board. Many of the people that work here have come from difficult backgrounds. As a business, if you have genuinely helped someone, you get a loyalty back that money cannot buy. I like to think that one of the reasons we are such a successful company is that we do give people that opportunity. If you help people then they will help you.”