8 April, 2016

Breaking down barriers

The success of a 23-year-old man who works at our store on Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, is proof that disability is no barrier to a retail career. Ashley is in line to be a supervisor and his success is inspiring the store’s latest recruit to aim just as high.

Both Ashley and recently-appointed Sheridan were born with hand disabilities and are determined not to let anything interfere with their commitment to undertake all the usual duties associated with working in a busy city store. Ashley has recently celebrated his third anniversary working for us and, whilst Sheridan’s career is still in its early days, he has similar ambitions to make progress.

Ashley and Sheridan have both been supported by disability employment specialists Remploy, which helped them prepare for work after frustrating periods of unemployment. Both really wanted jobs but felt their disability had become a barrier.

“When I left school I studied art and design at college but left full time education without a clear picture of what the future might hold,” said Ashley. “During my year of looking for a job, I qualified as a fork lift driver. Although I knew I was physically able to take on a range of jobs, employers were reluctant to give me a chance. Remploy gave me the opportunity to show I was just as capable as anybody else and although working in retail had never crossed my mind, I’m delighted to now be part of the M&S family.”

Sheridan, 22, from Manor Park, successfully completed two apprenticeships after leaving school but his self-esteem remained very low. With Remploy’s support, he embarked on a work placement with us. Through our Marks & Start initiative, we offer job opportunities to those who face complex barriers to employment, including people with disabilities and health conditions. Sheridan emerged with a job and has recently started work alongside Ashley.

“Remploy had belief in me and Marks & Spencer gave me a great opportunity,” added Sheridan. “Ash has shown that by working hard -the opportunities are there and he has made me determined to succeed too. My confidence is growing daily, along with my determination not let anything get in the way.”

“We have a really positive relationship with Remploy. Ashley and Sheridan have shown great drive and commitment and we are thrilled to have access to such a fantastic pool of talented people through Remploy's direct hire recruitment service and our Marks & Start programme.” said Store Manager Hedley Corney. 

Remploy Business Manager Sally Lockwood added, “It’s always extremely satisfying to see the success of our candidates. Through work, they gain skills, independence and confidence. Remploy works alongside a number of positive-thinking employers who are willing to disregard disability and concentrate on the contributions people can make to their business and Marks & Spencer is certainly one of them.”

Inside M&S