Adele Johnson
Adele Johnson

A Doncaster woman who is deaf and has cerebral palsy is celebrating after teaming up with a local specialist employment service to land her dream job.

Adele Johnson (23), from Armthorpe in Doncaster, had been looking for employment that fit with the hours she required for nearly two years and after recovering from having surgery was eager to start looking, but was very anxious as she knew her disabilities could be seen as a huge barrier and she didn’t know where to start.

So, she linked up with Aspire to Be, a specialist employability service managed by Doncaster Deaf Trust, and has now started work as a trainee advisor on the Deaf team at Doncaster’s Citizen’s Advice Bureaux (CAB).

Aspire to Be offers tailored, sector-specific training for those aged 16-60 with SEND. It aims to build on personal skills and provide opportunities to increase confidence, self-esteem, self-development, and improve health and wellbeing as individuals are supported to achieve employment in various sectors.

The innovative service, which recently received £465,000 from South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority to develop its provision, is for adults from across South Yorkshire who are Deaf/hearing impaired, neuro diverse or those who have any other communication difficulty helping to make a valuable difference to their lives by developing their skills and supporting them into work.

Adele said: “After my surgery I knew I wanted to get back looking for work but sometimes all an employer sees is my disability and I struggle to be given a chance and be successful in the job market. Over the years, this has also really affected my confidence and I realised I needed specialist support. I was aware of the Aspire to Be programme as they had previously helped my partner find employment so I got in touch with them.

“The Aspire to Be team helped me develop my belief and by listening, they understood my needs. As a BSL user, English is a second language so I struggled with word meanings and they were able to help me with my written applications. They also understood my physical capabilities and provided very positive, relevant support and guidance that prepared me, so I was able to get to grips with job descriptions and confidently apply for vacancies and attend interviews. In addition, the team liaised with potential employers to give clarity on my support needs and also offer awareness training if needed which was so beneficial.

“To now be working with CAB in this specialist role is the dream for me and I am really enjoying my work. I would recommend this service to everyone, I hope they can support many more people and educate others about our needs which will open even more doors to job opportunities for people like me. People with disabilities are often an untapped workforce who are more than capable of working, we just need more people to understand our needs and help.”

Tina Rafferty, programme manager for Aspire to Be, said: “We are extremely proud of Adele and all she has gone on to achieve. She is a real example of someone who faces extra challenges in life but

with the right support can truly reach her potential. She is a credit to herself and a real asset to any employer.

“Aspire to Be exists to support people just like Adele and we would welcome enquires from individuals who think this programme may be right for them or professionals in the education and employment field in South Yorkshire who are aware of people who could benefit for our expert team.”

For more information about Aspire to Be please visit: www.deaf-trust.co.uk/employability/aspire-to-be/ or email: tina.rafferty@cscd.ac.uk