Bradley's Story

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Bradley Cox, from Leeds in West Yorkshire, is a trainee sports coach and learner mentor at Aim Education Leeds.

Aim Education is an organisation offering an alternative path into Education. Providing active, individualised sessions for children of high school age who struggle with main stream education. Bradley has dyslexia.

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.

Bradley’s words

"Working with children who can’t deal with mainstream education; everyday is different. We will try and put as much structure into each day as possible by planning sessions for each age group (11-16)

"The sessions can be doing things like written exercises where the kids are working towards a BTEC, or projects that Carl sets them and also sports sessions where the kids are working on their fitness. The sports sessions are always fun, the kids love it.

"My duties are to coach the sessions that we run and also mentor the kids in the practical sessions so this could be helping with the written work or reading. It can be tough at times though, but having a good team around me helps. It’s only a small team but we all get on really well. We will look out for each other and are always sharing ideas on how to make the sessions even better.

"What I like the most about being here is that I can really relate to the kids. I’m fresh out of education myself but mainly because I struggled in school due to my dyslexia so I understand what they’re going through. As the kids have got to know me, they respect me more and I love knowing that I’ve been able to help them to not take the wrong path in life.

"My dyslexia does affect me a lot. Especially with reading and writing and it affects my concentration. It certainly did in school; I struggled with all the written side of things. I think the biggest thing it affects is my confidence though. As I’ve got older I’ve learned to accept it more, and try to ask for help when I need it. I still struggle with forms though, and even in the practical sessions with the kids; If there’s reading or writing that I have to do I do get nervous.

"I’ve always been really sporty especially rugby which is why when I left school I went onto Leeds City College to do a sport and recreation Course; which I passed but rugby was my passion. I then went onto play rugby as an academy player with Leeds Rhinos and from there started as professional Rugby League player for Featherstone Rugby Club.

"I then got an injury which meant I couldn’t play professionally anymore and it was really hard but seemed a natural process to go into coaching kids. I started coaching with Leeds Rhino’s and Rugby Football league where I coached local primary school children. When this finished I did some work with a local market stall and tried to find something I wanted to do, but again it was hard because of the application forms and my dyslexia.

"I was referred to Pluss by my local Jobcentre Plus and received support and courses to help me; confidence building CV writing and one-to-one support from my advisor Michelle, who was great. It was good to have someone believe in me like Michelle and Pluss did and so I started volunteering at Aim Education. 

"My advisor contacted them and spoke to Carl about me starting there as a paid member of the team, and soon after I started on a Pluss Traineeship®. Being in work has changed things a lot for me. Getting paid is great of course, but I’ve become a lot more social and I like having a routine again.

"I am also doing an NVQ Level 3 in personal training that Aim Education are paying for and I’ve started taking my own coaching session which has all helped my confidence grow. I could never have done all this before the support from Pluss and Aim Education.

"What next; well I want to keep going as I am. I hope to stay with Aim Education, and I’d definitely recommend Pluss to others looking for work!"

Carl Harrison, Head of Programmes, Aim Education

"Brad started with us volunteering in the summer and I knew pretty much straight away that Brad was someone I wanted to invest my time and money in. 

"But as we were a new business there just didn’t seem to be a way for us at Aim Education to take him on an employed basis. Then Brad’s advisor from Pluss got in touch with me about a Pluss Traineeship® and soon after he started.

"Brad was initially going to do sports coaching, but it was evident straight away that the kids really looked up to him and Brad just had a way of getting the kids on board who weren’t really engaging with us so part of Brad’s job is a learner mentor, where he supports the kids with both the practical and fitness designed training programmes too.

"Brad is a great role model for the kids, and that is exactly the kind of person we wanted regardless of academic ability. Brad’s really sporty and that’s the kind of role model we wanted because the kids aren’t going to respect a degree. The fact that Brad had played a good standard of rugby, and is really into his sport and fitness I knew he’d be well respected and that’s exactly what we needed because of the kind of kids we work with.

"He’s really calm and relaxed and obviously, working with children and teenagers, they can be quite colourful with their choice of words as well as misbehaving, but Brad remains calm throughout and can deal with difficult situations really well; its definitely a major strength of Brad’s. It is the biggest reason I knew I wanted to invest time in developing him.

"Brad gets on well with everyone here, the staff and the kids. We all have a shared goal and have a lot in common. We are all doing this job for the same reasons; which is to help young adults with an alternative path into education, because school isn’t for everyone.

"The Pluss Traineeship® really helped us to get off the ground too and because we were a new business I honestly don’t think we would be here today if it hadn’t have been for the support of Pluss. Pluss have been a great support to us and they keep in touch with us and support Brad too throughout his employment with any problems he might be having and help to keep him motivated. We all work together to make sure Brad is getting the most out of the job.

"I never really had any negative thoughts on people with disabilities. I am happy to give anyone a go as long as they can do the job and there are a lot of people out there who couldn’t do it regardless of disability. I don’t really notice Brad’s Dyslexia now but at first he avoided the practical sessions because he didn’t want to mess up. As time has gone on he’s become more confident and can understand that, actually, he’s a role model because of his dyslexia. 

"We have kids who have the same issues that Brad had at school and, again, this is why he is a role model to them.

"I’d certainly recommend Pluss because they work with employers and offer opportunities to people who may not have the skills or confidence to do it themselves. 

"The fact that Pluss approached me about Brad and his skills was great because I probably wouldn’t have looked past his CV before; he just doesn’t sell himself well enough, and it was a good eye opener to me. I’ll now look to meeting people face to face and not go off a piece of paper because I could have missed out on someone who is amazing.

"Brad has got a bright future ahead, and we couldn’t have done it without the help and support of Pluss!"