Michael's story

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Michael Burstone, 26, lives in Highbridge and is a Kitchen Porter in The Lemon Grove Café at Sanders Garden World.

Michael is a friendly and happy guy, very easy to get on with and willing to chat about things with anyone. He was referred to Pluss’ Work Choice programme by Jobcentre Plus. Michael has a learning difficulty.

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.

Michael’s words

"My average day is washing up, clearing the café at the end of the day, helping with deliveries and keeping the kitchen clean.

"I’ve been here about six months now; I enjoy doing something new and being useful. I like the team and get on with everyone. Claire’s a good boss; I like her, she’s nice. She’s very understanding and gives me clear instructions.

"I’ve got a learning difficulty, which means I find reading and writing hard. Because I find spelling hard I struggle with forms and job applications. It made school difficult and I left without any qualifications: but I’ve still managed to get a job I enjoy!

"My mum told me she wanted me to get a job, so I went to the Jobcentre and it was difficult, you have to do perfect application forms for things. I hate interviews because I get really nervous and shut down. It was good when I came to Sanders Garden World because I did a working interview for a day. I got shown what to do and then showed that I could do the job. I was then offered a three month trial and now I’ve got a permanent job!

"Pluss helped me to find and apply for the job; I was helped to do all the Sanders eLearning online training. Pluss came to check how I was getting on and set goals to achieve to help me towards unsupported employment.

"It’s great to be in work, not sitting at home all day. I enjoy earning a bit of money, I give a bit to my mum and I’m saving the rest. Now I’ve got a job I’m happier, and I like meeting new people!"

Claire Dawson, Restaurant Manager, Sanders, A Wyevale Garden Centre

"I took Michael on originally on a short term contract because I didn’t have confidence in him: but he proved me wrong. He’s learning at his pace, happy to learn new skills and is great as his job. His is an unpopular job, but he works really hard in a hot, sticky and high pressure environment. He gets on with it and does it with minimal complications and has gelled well with the team. I can see him going a lot further, he’s got it in him to learn a lot more skills.

"Having more experience now of employing people with disabilities, learning difficulties and mental health issues has reinforced that you do have to remember that your team are all individuals, and need managing as such. You need to get to know each person, about their background, etc. before we even get to the interview sometimes.

"It’s great to do job trials, and I believe strongly in working interviews – all my staff do them. The most important thing is that they have to really want the job.

"Pluss are there from the point of helping to find staff, supplying in-work supporters, they always offer to come in and assist if I need. I know that they will support someone to learn a new job and that they’re at the end of the phone for me and my employees, and support the retention of staff. Pluss gives that little bit extra.

"I would well and truly recommend Pluss, it’s a shame they’re not all over the country! They supply the right sort of people for me and save me time by doing all the sifting for me."