"It's taught me to never give up hope" - Emma's story

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Emma Barber, 27 from Brislington, is a Yard Operative for Abacus Waste Management in Bristol.

Emma is enthusiastic, friendly and hardworking. She has severe dyslexia and learning difficulties.

Emma’s words

“I get ready, get my boots on and start at 7.30 am. I go up the ladders, sort through waste and sort wood into a skip. I found £2 yesterday.

“This is my first ever paid job and I love it. It’s fun, I like to be busy and I like the noise, hustle and bustle. I like being one of the gang with James, Dave and Wayne, and I like the banter. We have a giggle. I also like the heavy lifting and getting involved. I’m very strong and always on time.

“I have dyslexia and I can’t read or write. I wasn’t given a chance before. It was hard at school and I didn’t get the help so I couldn’t do exams.

“I didn’t think I would ever get paid work. I went to college then I signed on and did voluntary work. I was annoyed, frustrated and I got bored at home.

“Then Pluss helped me a lot. They are a company with a nice feel. They helped me to fill in forms and deal with letters from Jobcentre Plus. I did training and they helped me get this interview. I was very excited when I came for interview. I was also quite nervous and shaking. Jeff came with me and he said ‘Trust me, they will really like you’!

“I was so happy when I was offered the job. I went home and said ‘Yay’!

I am so proud of myself – I am out doing something now and not bored at home. It has taught me to never give up hope.”

Jodie, Emma’s boss
Abacus Waste Management

“Emma is always on time and very conscientious. We have no issues at all. She comes in, gets her PPE gear on and off she goes. She always listens to what she’s asked to do.

“Emma is not phased by anything unpleasant which is a big part of the job. It can be dangerous but she keeps safe and her wits about her.

“It’s actually done the team a lot of good as everyone looks out for her. They’re mainly male and she’s bought something new as the only woman out in the yard. She really knows what she is doing. She is very good with them - they’ve even started doing the washing up!

“We were a little unsure at first. Our priority is keeping everyone safe and we have a job that needs to be done. But she does it very well.

“When Emma came for interview we explained it is cold, dirty noisy and all male. She seemed happy with this and we arranged for her to come and work for us on a three month traineeship.

“We have had excellent support from Pluss. For us it’s not about disability – that’s not an issue. As a family owned company, this is something we like to do. I know we have the support from Pluss. They are just a phone call away and are there if we need them. I feel very supported and would advise any business to give it a go.

“We’ve a job that needs doing, we’ve employed Emma and she’s doing it very well.”