Sophie's Story

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Sophie, 20, from Fishponds in Bristol is a Vehicle Repairer/Painter for Restomod, an automotive repair business based in Bristol.

Sophie is profoundly deaf and communicates by lip-reading and using British Sign Language.

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.

Sophie's words

"It’s good here; the atmosphere is good. People are very positive and I haven’t got any problems. I have become much more confident since I’ve been here and I feel motivated.

"Because it’s flexible I am focused on the job. It’s affected my life outside – I am more confident there now too. It has made me more confident with lipreading and communicating with people outside. I had to write before, I would write things down and it used to be difficult to communicate.

"I was at college before, firstly in Doncaster for two years where I completed a certificate in car and body spraying, and then I did a third year at Bristol College.

"I had looked for jobs but it was difficult to find a job to match my skills and interests. It’s quite rare for women in jobs like this. People didn’t accept a woman would want to be in a job like this and yet last year I came fourth in a national competition held in Birmingham for car spraying.

"I also think communication was an obstacle – some people talk too fast and they see me as a barrier.

"Then I had support from Gary at Pluss. After a couple of weeks we found this garage and it suited me and my skills. When I came to look around I could see the atmosphere was very positive.

James Nichols, Owner, Restomod

"Sophie is a very hard worker; she doesn’t stand around chatting. She has real drive and uses her initiative; she asks me what’s next. This type of work can be quite demanding and you’ve got to have a real passion and be able to keep up – which Sophie does.

"We are quite relaxed here, as long as all the work is done. It works both ways. She is always here bang on time; always makes sure a job is finished before she leaves – she won’t go until she is finished. Her Mum comes to pick her up at 5.30pm and often has to wait until 6.00pm!

"We were a little apprehensive at first just around how things would go with communication but everything is going very well. It really seems to be working.

"You need to know a little bit of sign language but I’m really quite enjoying learning. I have never had to speak other languages but she is quite willing to teach me and I find it interesting and refreshing to do something a bit different.

"We have had brilliant support from Pluss and they visit every three weeks or so just to make sure everything is going ok. They have basically given us a good worker who is very willing."