A teenager with a speech impediment has overcome all the odds to land a full-time job operating the county’s green recycling vans.
Roxy Garraway was given a 10-week work placement at the recycling centre on Midland Road, Bath, as part of Project SEARCH.
The programme, run in partnership with Bath College, Bath and North East Somerset Council and Sirona Health and Care, helps young people with learning difficulties and disabilities secure paid permanent jobs at the end of a year-long employability programme.
Miss Garraway was low in confidence when she started Project SEARCH. But she worked hard and impressed her boss at the recycling centre, who gave her a full-time job after she finished her work placement.
The 18-year-old will get her first pay cheque just before Christmas.
She said: “I love being a part of this team. We have a laugh, we get on and we always look after each other. It’s really helped me with my confidence.
“Before I didn’t want to work, I would rather ask my mum for money. But when I started on the programme I realised what I wanted to do – I wanted a job.
“I’m looking forward to working full-time because at the moment I’m only on an agency job. I’m out in the van. I go to peoples’ houses and collect stuff they don’t want anymore.”
Young people aged 18 to 24-years-old are placed on three 10-week work placements as part of the Project SEARCH programme.
Miss Garraway started her first work placement at the council’s parks department, before going on to work at Haycombe Cemetery and the recycling centre.
She received support from a Bath College tutor in the classroom, learning about appropriate dress, conduct and attitudes in the workplace.
Sirona job coach Sarah Rendell also visited Miss Garraway during her placements to give support, advice, guidance and check on her progress
She said: “Roxy is a completely different lady now and this has been noticed by her family too.
“She has gone from a young lady who used to sit in class with her hands over her face to someone who is confident approaching customers and ensuring the council recycling system works properly.
“She went through a competitive interview process. She had to apply for a job and she’s been successful.
“Roxy will be reliable no matter what the weather and I know she is capable of progressing in that job. It could quite feasibly be a job for life.”
Miss Garraway plans to use the money she earns to take driving lessons and would like to learn to drive the recycling lorries.
Glyn Jones is the teenager’s manager at the recycling centre.
He said: “She has worked hard even though she has a speech impediment she’s pulled herself through and her confidence has really grown.
“She’s prepared to take on any task you ask of her.”
Students on the Project SEARCH programme may find themselves on an internship at the historical Roman Baths, Pump Rooms and Assembly Rooms, as well as other council departments.
They are more likely to find employment opportunities thanks to the programme.
Mrs Rendell said: “This is work experience with a difference. They are not paid, but they are gaining valuable employability skills and they end up with a reference from the manager.
“It works like a long working interview, which is much fairer for someone with learning disabilities. It completely widens out what they do with their life. It gives them an opportunity they would never have had otherwise.”
For information about Project SEARCH click here.